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Biochim Biophys Acta. 1994 Apr 28;1185(2):160-6.

Blue form of bacteriorhodopsin and its order-disorder transition during dehydration.

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Department of Chemistry, Stanford University, CA 94305.


Freshly-prepared blue membranes from Halobacterium halobium, previously reported to be disordered, are shown to have a distinct crystal lattice structure, slightly different from the native form. The lattice of the blue form is disrupted irreversibly when dehydrated. The disorder process was observed using time-resolved small-angle X-ray diffraction and analyzed by radial autocorrelation functions. The diffraction peaks of the in-plane lattice first sharpen and increase due to improved membrane orientation, then the trimer lattice becomes disordered and the unit cell dimension decreases by 1.8 A. In contrast, dehydration of purple membranes does not disorder the lattice, and the unit cell dimension shrinks by only 1.0 A. Comparisons of radial autocorrelation functions for the blue membrane during drying show drastic loss of inter-trimer, long-range correlation while the intra-trimer, short-range correlations remain more or less unchanged. This suggests that the deionized protein trimers can maintain their overall structure during the dehydration, even though the lattice dimension decreases appreciably and the two-dimensional crystallinity is disrupted.

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