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The atomic-scale structure of the phosphocholine (PC) headgroup in 30 mol. % propylene glycol (PG) in an aqueous solution has been investigated using a combination of neutron diffraction with isotopic substitution experiments and computer simulation techniques-molecular dynamics and empirical potential structure refinement. Here, the hydration of the PC headgroup remains largely intact compared with the hydration of this group in a bilayer and in a bulk water solution, with the PG molecules showing limited interactions with the headgroup. When direct PG interactions with PC do occur, they are most likely to coordinate to the N(CH3)3+ motifs. Further, PG does not affect the bulk water structure and the addition of PC does not perturb the PG-solvent interactions. This suggests that the reason why PG is able to penetrate into membranes easily is that it does not form strong-hydrogen bonding or electrostatic interactions with the headgroup allowing it to easily move across the membrane barrier.

Original publication

DOI

10.1063/1.5024850

Type

Journal article

Journal

J Chem Phys

Publication Date

07/04/2018

Volume

148