We synthesized a series of amphiphiles with poly(ethylene glycol) [MW 2000 (PEG20), 5000 (PEG50), 12 500 (PEG125)] as a headgroup and one, two, or four palmitoyl chains (1C16, 2C16, or 4C16), using a lysine monodendron as a connector. The relationship between the hydrophilic - hydrophobic balance of the multiacyl PEG-lipids and the physicochemical characteristics in self- or co-assembly with phospholipids were studied. The PEG-lipids were easily synthesized by combination of a general liquid-phase peptide synthesis and the acylation of an amino acid. The PEG part of the PEG - lipid films was crystallized to show a typical spherulite pattern. The thermal properties and microscopic observation revealed the phase separation of PEG and acyl chain parts. The critical micelle concentrations (cmcs) mainly depend on the number of acyl chains rather than the molecular weight of the PEG chain, although the area per molecule is dependent on the molecular weight of the PEG chain rather than the number of the acyl chains. The gel-to-liquid crystalline phase transition temperature was increased with the increasing number of acyl chains and the decreasing molecular weight of the PEG chain. The PEG - lipids in the aqueous dispersions assemble to take fibrous structures with bimolecular thickness because of the intermolecular hydrogen bonding. The PEG - lipids were immobilized onto the surface of the phospholipid vesicles by simply adding their aqueous dispersions to the vesicle dispersion; however, they dissociated from the vesicles on dilution of the mixed dispersion because they were incorporated into the vesicles in an equilibrium state. To prevent the dissociation of the PEG - lipids, at least two and four acyl chains were required for PEG with MW 5000 and 12 500, respectively. The aggregation of the vesicles by the addition of water-soluble polymers was significantly inhibited with the increasing molecular weight of the PEG chain. For the tight immobilization of the PEG - lipids with the long PEG chain onto the vesicular surface, an increased number of acyl chains is necessary, and the surface modification with the long PEG chains significantly increases the dispersion stability of the vesicles.
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