Previous studies have used neutron diffraction to elucidate the hydration of the ceramide and the phosphatidylcholine headgroup in solution. These solution studies provide bond-length resolution information on the system, but are limited to liquid samples. The work presented here investigates how the hydration of ceramide and phosphatidylcholine headgroups in a solution compares with that found in a lipid bilayer. This work shows that the hydration patterns seen in the solution samples provide valuable insight into the preferential location of hydrating water molecules in the bilayer. There are certain subtle differences in the distribution, which result from a combination of the lipid conformation and the lipid-lipid interactions within the bilayer environment. The lipid-lipid interactions in the bilayer will be dependent on the composition of the bilayer, whereas the restricted exploration of conformational space is likely to be applicable in all membrane environments. The generalized description of hydration gathered from the neutron diffraction studies thus provides good initial estimation for the hydration pattern, but this can be further refined for specific systems.

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See supplementary material at http://dx.doi.org/10.1063/1.4952444 for more detailed analysis and further information on analysis methods.

Supplementary Material

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