7-Ketocholesterol is an oxidized derivative of cholesterol with numerous physiological effects. In model membranes, 7-ketocholesterol and cholesterol were compared by physical measures of bilayer order and polarity, formation of detergent resistant domains (DRM), phase separation, and membrane microsolubilization by apolipoprotein A-I. In binary mixtures of a saturated phosphatidylcholine (PC), dipalmitoyl-PC (DPPC), and cholesterol or 7-ketocholesterol, the sterols modulate bilayer order and polarity and induce DRM formation to a similar extent. Cholesterol induces formation of ordered lipid domains (rafts) in tertiary mixtures with dioleoyl-PC (DOPC) and DPPC, or DOPC and sphingomyelin (SM). In tertiary mixtures, cholesterol increased lipid order and reduces bilayer polarity more than 7-ketocholesterol. This effect was more pronounced when the mixtures were in a miscible liquid-disordered (L d) phase. Substitution of 7-ketocholesterol for cholesterol dramatically reduced the extent of DRM formation in DOPC/DPPC and DOPC/SM bilayers and ordered lipid phase separation in mixtures of a spin-labeled PC with DPPC and with SM. Compared to cholesterol, 7-ketocholesterol decreased the rate for the microsolubilization of dimyristoyl-PC multilamellar vesicles by apolipoprotein A-I. The membrane effects of 7-ketocholesterol were dependent on the phospholipid matrix. In Ld phase phospholipids, a model for 7-ketocholesterol indicates that the proximity of the 7-keto and 3β-OH groups puts both polar moieties at the lipid-water interface to tilt the sterol nucleus to the plane of the bilayer. 7-Ketocholesterol was less effective in forming ordered lipid domains, in decreasing the level of bilayer hydration, and in forming phase boundary bilayer defects. Compared to cholesterol, 7-ketocholesterol can differentially modulate membrane properties involved in protein-membrane association and function.
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