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J Biol Chem. 1990 Nov 5;265(31):18797-802.

Mitochondrial contact sites. Lipid composition and dynamics.

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  • 1Department of Biochemistry, University of Lyon, France.


Two membrane fractions of intermediate density between inner and outer mitochondrial membranes were isolated by density gradient centrifugation from osmotically lysed mitochondria and mitoplasts of liver. These fractions were characterized by the presence of both monamine oxidase and cytochrome c oxidase activities and bound hexokinase. 1) The content of the fractions in proteins and lipids was assessed by biochemical determination. Thin-layer and gas-liquid chromatography showed that the two contact site-enriched fractions contain predominantly phosphatidylcholine (31%), phosphatidylethanolamine (27%, half-unsaturated), and cardiolipin (27%, fully unsaturated). 2) The dynamics of the fractions were assessed by fluorescence polarization techniques using 1,6-diphenyl-1,3,5-hexatriene as a probe and by fluorescence decay measurements. We have verified that differences in static anisotropy cannot be exclusively attributed to differences in fluorescence lifetimes. On the contrary, the results indicated an increased lipid mobility in "inner membrane contact sites," which is probably related to a lower cholesterol to phospholipid ratio, as well as a lower saturation of the fatty acyl chains when compared with "outer membrane contact sites." Taken all together, the spectroscopic measurements confirm the biochemical results, leading to the idea that the two populations of contact sites have different physicochemical properties, which are probably mainly determined by the membrane from which they are derived. They constitute microdomains enriched either in inner or outer mitochondrial membranes.

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