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Keywords:

  • hydrophobic mismatch;
  • membranes;
  • molecular rods;
  • phospholipids;
  • spiro compounds

Abstract

Molecular rods consisting of a hydrophobic backbone and terminally varying functional groups have been synthesized for applications for the functionalization of membranes. In the present study, we employ a spin-labeled analogue of a recently described new class of molecular rods to characterize their dynamic interactions with membranes. By using the different approaches of ESR and NMR spectroscopy, we show that the spin moiety of the membrane-embedded spin-labeled rod is localized in the upper chain/glycerol region of membranes of different compositions. The rod is embedded within the membrane in a tilted orientation to adjust for the varying hydrophobic thicknesses of these bilayers. This orientation does not perturb the membrane structure. The water solubility of the rod is increased significantly in the presence of certain cyclodextrins. These cyclodextrins also allow the rods to be extracted from the membrane and incorporated into preformed membranes. The latter will improve the future applications of these rods in cellular systems as stable membrane-associated anchors for the functionalization of membrane surfaces.