Lipid Tubule Self-Assembly: Length Dependence on Cooling Rate Through a First-Order Phase Transition

Science  17 Mar 1995:
Vol. 267, Issue 5204, pp. 1635-1638
DOI: 10.1126/science.267.5204.1635


The formation kinetics and self-assembly of multilamellar tubules of the diacetylenic phospholipid 1,2-bis(tricosa-10,12-diynoyl)-sn-glycerol-3-phosphocholine formed under controlled cooling rates were studied by x-ray diffraction and optical, atomic force, and scanning electron microscopy. Tubule formation was driven by a reversible first-order phase transition from an intralamellar, chain-melted Lα phase to a chain-frozen Lβ, phase. These observations are the basis of a highly efficient method of tubule production in which tubule lengths can be controlled, between 1 and 100 micrometers, by varying the cooling rate. These tubules can be made in suspensions with 10 percent lipid by mass, far exceeding the lipid solubility limit.