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Biochemistry. 1992 Nov 24;31(46):11589-94.

Are membrane enzymes regulated by the viscosity of the membrane environment?

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Department of Medicine, Cornell University Medical College, New York, New York 10021.


We have examined the idea that membrane enzymes are regulated by the viscosity of surrounding lipids using data compiled from the literature for the effect of the change in membrane viscosity ([symbol: see text]) at the gel- to liquid-crystal-phase transition on the activities of several enzymes. The analysis was not extended explicitly to the problem of viscosity-dependent regulation of membrane enzymes in liquid-crystalline lipids because of the absence of exact data for values of [symbol: see text] in liquid-crystalline phases of variable composition. For most membrane enzymes studied, energies of activation are discontinuous, while kcat is continuous, at the main-phase transition. We consider that the energy of activation contains terms related to the height of the chemical barrier to reaction and terms due to the mechanical properties of the bilayer, such as the work of expansion during the catalytic cycle and the temperature dependence of [symbol: see text]. We find that the differences in energies of activation, above and below the break points in Arrhenius plots, are orders of magnitude larger than can be accounted for by the above mechanical factors. Thus, discontinuities in energies of activation at the phase transition appear to reflect changes in the chemical barrier to reaction, which is independent of [symbol: see text]. The theorectical analysis indicates too that values of [symbol: see text] for bilayers in the liquid-crystalline phase would have to be several orders of magnitude larger than those for gel phases in order to provide a basis for viscosity-dependent regulation of membrane enzymes in liquid-crystalline phases.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS).

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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