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Biochemistry. 2005 Nov 15;44(45):15017-23.

Bipolar tetraether lipids: chain flexibility and membrane polarity gradients from spin-label electron spin resonance.

Author information

1
Dipartimento di Fisica, Università della Calabria, I-87036 Arcavacata di Rende (CS), Italy. bartucci@fis.unical.it

Abstract

Membranes of thermophilic Archaea are composed of unique tetraether lipids in which C40, saturated, methyl-branched biphytanyl chains are linked at both ends to polar groups. In this paper, membranes composed of bipolar lipids P2 extracted from the acidothermophile archaeon Sulfolobus solfataricus are studied. The biophysical basis for the membrane formation and thermal stability is investigated by using electron spin resonance (ESR) of spin-labeled lipids. Spectral anisotropy and isotropic hyperfine couplings are used to determine the chain flexibility and polarity gradients, respectively. For comparison, similar measurements have been carried out on aqueous dispersions of diacyl reference lipid dipalmitoyl phosphatidylcholine and also of diphytanoyl phosphatidylcholine, which has methyl-branched chains. At a given temperature, the bolaform lipid chains are more ordered and less flexible than in normal bilayer membranes. Only at elevated temperatures (80 degrees C) does the flexibility of the chain environment in tetraether lipid assemblies approach that of fluid bilayer membranes. The height of the hydrophobic barrier formed by a monolayer of archaebacterial lipids is similar to that in conventional fluid bilayer membranes, and the permeability barrier width is comparable to that formed by a bilayer of C16 lipid chains. At a mole ratio of 1:2, the tetraether P2 lipids mix well with dipalmitoyl phosphatidylcholine lipids and stabilize conventional bilayer membranes. The biological as well as the biotechnological relevance of the results is discussed.

PMID:
16274248
DOI:
10.1021/bi051101i
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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