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The hydration of the phosphocholine headgroup in 1,2-dipropionyl-sn-glycero-3-phosphocholine (C(3)-PC) in solution has been determined by using neutron diffraction enhanced with isotopic substitution in combination with computer simulation techniques. The atomic scale hydration structure around this head group shows that both the -N(CH(3))(3) and -CH(2) portions of the choline headgroup are strongly associated with water, through a unique hydrogen bonding regime, where specifically a hydrogen bond from the C-H group to water and a strong association between the water oxygen and N(+) atom in solution have both been observed. In addition, both PO(4) oxygens (P=O) and C=O oxygens are oversaturated when compared to bulk water in that the average number of hydrogen bonds from water to both X=O oxygens is about 2.5 for each group. That water binds strongly to the glycerol groups and is suggestive that water may bind to these groups when phosophotidylcholine is embedded in a membrane bilayer.

Original publication




Journal article


J Chem Phys

Publication Date





Computer Simulation, Hydrogen Bonding, Membranes, Neutron Diffraction, Oxygen, Phosphorylcholine, Solutions, Water