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Chem Phys Lipids. 2010 Mar;163(3):253-65. doi: 10.1016/j.chemphyslip.2009.12.006. Epub 2010 Jan 12.

Archaebacterial bipolar tetraether lipids: Physico-chemical and membrane properties.

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Department of Biochemistry, Temple University School of Medicine, Philadelphia, PA 19140, United States.


Bipolar tetraether lipids (BTL) are abundant in archaea and can be chemically synthesized. The structures of BTL are distinctly different from the lipids found in bacteria and eukaryotes. In aqueous solution, BTL can form extraordinarily stable liposomes with different sizes, lamellarities and membrane packing densities. BTL liposomes can serve as membrane models for understanding the structure-function relationship of the plasma membrane in thermoacidophiles and can be used for technological applications. This article reviews the separation, characterization and structures of BTL as well as the physical properties and technological applications of BTL liposomes. One of the structural features of BTL is the presence of cyclopentane rings in the lipid hydrocarbon core. Archaea use the cyclopentane ring as an adaptation strategy to cope with high growth temperature. Special attention of this article is focused on how the number of cyclopentane rings varies with environmental factors and affects membrane properties.

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