The composition of pulmonary surfactant membranes and films has evolved to support a complex lateral structure, including segregation of ordered/disordered phases maintained up to physiological temperatures. In this study, we have analyzed the temperature-dependent dynamic properties of native surfactant membranes and membranes reconstituted from two surfactant hydrophobic fractions (i.e., all the lipids plus the hydrophobic proteins SP-B and SP-C, or only the total lipid fraction). These preparations show micrometer-sized fluid ordered/disordered phase coexistence, associated with a broad endothermic transition ending close to 37°C. However, both types of membrane exhibit uniform lipid mobility when analyzed by electron paramagnetic resonance with different spin-labeled phospholipids. A similar feature is observed with pulse-field gradient NMR experiments on oriented membranes reconstituted from the two types of surfactant hydrophobic extract. These latter results suggest that lipid dynamics are similar in the coexisting fluid phases observed by fluorescence microscopy. Additionally, it is found that surfactant proteins significantly reduce the average intramolecular lipid mobility and translational diffusion of phospholipids in the membranes, and that removal of cholesterol has a profound impact on both the lateral structure and dynamics of surfactant lipid membranes. We believe that the particular lipid composition of surfactant imposes a highly dynamic framework on the membrane structure, as well as maintains a lateral organization that is poised at the edge of critical transitions occurring under physiological conditions.
Biophysical Journal, 2009, Vol 97, Issue 5, p. 1381-9