Cardiolipin-Dependent Properties of Model Mitochondrial Membranes from Molecular Simulations
Wilson, Blake A.
Lopez, Carlos F.
Cardiolipin is an anionic lipid found in the mitochondrial membranes of eukaryotes ranging from unicellular microorganisms to metazoans. This unique lipid contributes to various mitochondrial functions, including metabolism, mitochondrial membrane fusion and/or fission dynamics, and apoptosis. However, differences in cardiolipin content between the two mitochondrial membranes, as well as dynamic fluctuations in cardiolipin content in response to stimuli and cellular signaling events, raise questions about how cardiolipin concentration affects mitochondrial membrane structure and dynamics. Although cardiolipin's structural and dynamic roles have been extensively studied in binary mixtures with other phospholipids, the biophysical properties of cardiolipin in higher number lipid mixtures are still not well resolved. Here, we used molecular dynamics simulations to investigate the cardiolipin-dependent properties of ternary lipid bilayer systems that mimic the major components of mitochondrial membranes. We found that changes to cardiolipin concentration only resulted in minor changes to bilayer structural features but that the lipid diffusion was significantly affected by those alterations. We also found that cardiolipin position along the bilayer surfaces correlated to negative curvature deflections, consistent with the induction of negative curvature stress in the membrane monolayers. This work contributes to a foundational understanding of the role of cardiolipin in altering the properties in ternary lipid mixtures composed of the major mitochondrial phospholipids, providing much-needed insights to help understand how cardiolipin concentration modulates the biophysical properties of mitochondrial membranes.