Evidence for ATP interaction with phosphatidylcholine bilayers

10 September 2019

ATP is a fundamental intracellular molecule and is thought to diffuse freely throughout the cytosol. Evidence obtained from nucleoside-sensing sarcolemmal ion channels and red blood cells, however, suggest that ATP is compartmentalised or buffered, especially beneath the sarcolemma, but no definitive mechanism for restricted diffusion or potential buffering system has been postulated. In this study, we provide evidence from alterations to membrane dipole potential, membrane conductance, changes in enthalpy of phospholipid phase transition, and from free energy calculations that ATP associates with phospholipid bilayers. Furthermore, all-atom molecular dynamics simulations show that ATP can form aggregates in the aqueous phase at high concentrations. ATP interaction with membranes provides a new model to understand the diffusion of ATP through the cell. Coupled with previous reports of diffusion restriction in the subsarcolemmal space, these findings support the existence of compartmentalized or buffered pools of ATP.