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EMBO J. 2010 May 19;29(10):1652-8. doi: 10.1038/emboj.2010.68. Epub 2010 Apr 13.

Principles of membrane protein interactions with annular lipids deduced from aquaporin-0 2D crystals.

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Department of Cell Biology, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA 02115, USA.


We have previously described the interactions of aquaporin-0 (AQP0) with dimyristoyl phosphatidylcholine (DMPC) lipids. We have now determined the 2.5 A structure of AQP0 in two-dimensional (2D) crystals formed with Escherichia coli polar lipids (EPLs), which differ from DMPC both in headgroups and acyl chains. Comparison of the two structures shows that AQP0 does not adapt to the different length of the acyl chains in EPLs and that the distance between the phosphodiester groups in the two leaflets of the DMPC and EPL bilayers is almost identical. The EPL headgroups interact differently with AQP0 than do those of DMPC, but the acyl chains in the EPL and DMPC bilayers occupy similar positions. The interactions of annular lipids with membrane proteins seem to be driven by the propensity of the acyl chains to fill gaps in the protein surface. Interactions of the lipid headgroups may be responsible for the specific interactions found in tightly bound lipids but seem to have a negligible effect on interactions of generic annular lipids with membrane proteins.

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