Angular-dependent31P NMR spectra of oriented biaxial monodomain DPPCH20 multilayers are employed to study head-group conformation in this phospholipid. The results indicate that the O-P-O plane of the phosphate, where the O's are the nonesterified oxygens of the phosphodiester, is tilted at 47 ± 5° with respect to the bilayer normal. This PO4 orientation could result in the choline moiety being extended parallel to the bilayer plane, and it will explain the breadth of the axially symmetric 31P powder spectrum observed for DPPC in excess water. This work is the first direct observation of this conformation for lecithins and it illustrates the utility of high-resolution solid-state NMR in structural studies of disordered systems.
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