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Extremophiles. 2008 Mar;12(2):271-8. Epub 2007 Dec 22.

Effect of growth temperature on ether lipid biochemistry in Archaeoglobus fulgidus.

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Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, University of California, Los Angeles, 5531 Boelter Hall, 420 Westwood Plaza, Los Angeles, CA 90095, USA.


The archaea are distinguished by their unique isoprenoid ether lipids, which typically consist of the sn-2,3-diphytanylglycerol diether or sn-2,3-dibiphytanyldiglycerol tetraether core modified with a variety of polar headgroups. However, many hyperthermophilic archaea also synthesize tetraether lipids with up to four pentacyclic rings per 40-carbon chain, presumably to improve membrane thermal stability at temperatures up to approximately 110 degrees C. This study aimed to correlate the ratio of tetraether to diether core lipid, as well as the presence of pentacyclic groups in tetraether lipids, with growth temperature for the hyperthermophilic archaeon, Archaeoglobus fulgidus. Analysis of the membrane core lipids of A. fulgidus using APCI-MS analysis revealed that the tetraether-to-diether lipid ratio increases from 0.3 +/- 0.1 for cultures grown at 70 degrees C to 0.9 +/- 0.1 for cultures grown at 89 degrees C. Thin-layer chromatography (TLC) followed by APCI-MS analysis provided evidence for no more than one pentacycle in the hydrocarbon chains of tetraether lipid from cultures grown at 70 degrees C and up to 2 pentacycles in the tetraether lipid from cultures grown at higher temperatures. Analysis of the polar lipid extract using TLC and negative-ion ESI-MS suggested the presence of diether and tetraether phospholipids with inositol, glycosyl, and ethanolamine headgroup chemistry.

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