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J Bacteriol. 1985 Apr;162(1):9-20.

High state of order of isolated bacterial lipopolysaccharide and its possible contribution to the permeation barrier property of the outer membrane.


The conformational properties of the isolated S form of Salmonella sp. lipopolysaccharide (LPS), of Re mutant LPS, and of free lipid A were investigated by using X-ray diffraction and conformational energy calculations. The data obtained showed that LPS in a dried, in a hydrated, and probably also in an aqueous dispersion state is capable of forming bilayered lamellar arrangements similar to phospholipids. From the bilayer packing periodicities, a geometrical model of the extensions of the LPS regions lipid A, 2-keto-3-deoxyoctulosonic acid, and O-specific chain along the membrane normal could be calculated. Furthermore, the lipid A component was found to assume a remarkably high ordered conformation: its fatty acid chains were tightly packed in a dense hexagonal lattice with a center-to-center distance of 0.49 nm. The hydrophilic backbone of lipid A showed a strong tendency to form domains in the membrane, resulting in a more or less parallel arrangement of lipid A units. According to model calculations, the hydrophilic backbone of lipid A appears to be oriented approximately 45 degrees to the membrane surface, which would lead to a shed roof-like appearance of the surface structure in the indentations of which the 2-keto-3-deoxyoctulosonic acid moiety would fit. In contrast, the O-specific chains assume a low ordered, heavily coiled conformation. Comparison of these structural properties with those known for natural phospholipids in biological membranes indicates that the high state of order of the lipid A portion of LPS might be an important factor in the structural role and permeation barrier functions of LPS in the outer membrane of gram-negative bacteria.

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