Cholesteryl hemisuccinate is a detergent that is often used to replace cholesterol in crystallization of membrane proteins. Here we employ atomistic molecular dynamics simulations to characterize how well the properties of cholesteryl hemisuccinate actually match those of cholesterol in saturated protein-free lipid membranes. We show that the protonated form of cholesteryl hemisuccinate mimics many of the membrane properties of cholesterol quite well, while the deprotonated form of cholesteryl hemisuccinate is less convincing in this respect. Based on the results, we suggest that cholesteryl hemisuccinate in its protonated form is a quite faithful mimic of cholesterol for membrane protein crystallization, if specific cholesterol-protein interactions (not investigated here) are not playing a crucial role.
Journal of Molecular Modeling, 2014, Vol 20, Issue 2