Segmental Dynamics of Membranous Cholesterol are Coupled

Lisa A. Della Ripa, Joseph M. Courtney, Samantha M. Phinney, Collin G. Borcik, Martin D. Burke, Chad M. Rienstra, Taras V. Pogorelov

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Cholesterol promotes the structural integrity of the fluid cell membrane and interacts dynamically with many membrane proteins to regulate function. Understanding site-resolved cholesterol structural dynamics is thus important. This long-standing challenge has thus far been addressed, in part, by selective isotopic labeling approaches. Here we present a new 3D solid-state NMR (SSNMR) experiment utilizing scalar 13C-13C polarization transfer and recoupling of the 1H-13C interactions in order to determine average dipolar couplings for all 1H-13C vectors in uniformly 13C-enriched cholesterol. The experimentally determined order parameters (OP) agree exceptionally well with molecular dynamics (MD) trajectories and reveal coupling among several conformational degrees of freedom in cholesterol molecules. Quantum chemistry shielding calculations further support this conclusion and specifically demonstrate that ring tilt and rotation are coupled to changes in tail conformation and that these coupled segmental dynamics dictate the orientation of cholesterol. These findings advance our understanding of physiologically relevant dynamics of cholesterol, and the methods that revealed them have broader potential to characterize how structural dynamics of other small molecules impact their biological functions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)15043-15048
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of the American Chemical Society
Issue number28
StatePublished - Jul 19 2023

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Chemistry
  • Biochemistry
  • Catalysis
  • Colloid and Surface Chemistry


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