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Asymmetric Phospholipid Membranes


It is well established that native plasma membranes are characterized by asymmetric distribution of lipid molecules across the membrane. Such an asymmetry plays an important role in various membrane properties and phenomena such as membrane mechanical stability, modulation of the activity of membrane proteins, and programmed cell death. Our goal is to go beyond conventional symmetrical lipid bilayers which are routinely used in most atomic-scale molecular dynamics studies as models of cell membranes. To this end, we improve current membrane models by introducing asymmetry in transmembrane distribution of both zwitterionic (neutral) and anionic (negatively charged) lipids. Preliminary studies indicate that the lipid asymmetry is essential for a number of the membrane properties; in particular, it is found to contribute to the membrane electrostatic potential.

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