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1.  Membranes linked by trans-SNARE complexes require lipids prone to non-bilayer structure for progression to fusion 
eLife  null;3:e01879.
Like other intracellular fusion events, the homotypic fusion of yeast vacuoles requires a Rab GTPase, a large Rab effector complex, SNARE proteins which can form a 4-helical bundle, and the SNARE disassembly chaperones Sec17p and Sec18p. In addition to these proteins, specific vacuole lipids are required for efficient fusion in vivo and with the purified organelle. Reconstitution of vacuole fusion with all purified components reveals that high SNARE levels can mask the requirement for a complex mixture of vacuole lipids. At lower, more physiological SNARE levels, neutral lipids with small headgroups that tend to form non-bilayer structures (phosphatidylethanolamine, diacylglycerol, and ergosterol) are essential. Membranes without these three lipids can dock and complete trans-SNARE pairing but cannot rearrange their lipids for fusion.
eLife digest
All cells are enclosed with a membrane that is made of phospholipid molecules, and many of the structures found inside cells—such as the vacuoles in plant and fungal cells—are also enclosed with a phospholipid membrane. To form a membrane, the phospholipid molecules—which have a phosphate head and two fatty acid tails—arrange themselves in two layers, with the fatty acid tails pointing into the membrane, and the phosphate heads pointing outwards. This structure is known as a phospholipid bilayer.
Vacuoles are filled with water that contains various proteins and molecules in solution, and adjust their volume to keep the concentrations of substances in the cell in balance. To do this, the vacuoles fuse with each other. This fusion process requires dramatic spatial rearrangements of the phospholipid molecules.
The SNARE family of proteins plays a key role in membrane fusion. As the two membranes come together, SNARE proteins located on each membrane form a complex known as a trans-SNARE complex. This docks the vacuole in place beside another vacuole while the phospholipid molecules in the two membranes rearrange. However, much less is known about the phospholipid molecules that are involved in the fusion process.
Now, Zick et al. have shown that three types of phospholipid molecules must be present for membrane fusion to be completed. These have in common that their phosphate ‘headgroups’ are small and they do not tend to form bilayers. The vacuoles can dock beside each other if these small headgroup phospholipid molecules are not present, but the bilayer lipids in the vacuole membranes cannot rearrange themselves in the absence of these particular lipids.
The importance of these nonbilayer lipid molecules had not previously been established, as the majority of experiments investigating membrane fusion used concentrations of SNARE proteins that were much higher than those found physiologically. At such high concentrations, fusion can go ahead without the nonbilayer lipid molecules being present.
PMCID: PMC3937803  PMID: 24596153
membrane fusion; SNAREs; ergosterol; diacylglycerol; phosphatidylethanolamine; S. cerevisiae
2.  Interactions of the amphiphiles arbutin and tryptophan with phosphatidylcholine and phosphatidylethanolamine bilayers in the dry state 
BMC Biophysics  2013;6:9.
Water is essential for life, but some organisms can survive complete desiccation, while many more survive partial dehydration during drying or freezing. The function of some protective molecules, such as sugars, has been extensively studied, but much less is known about the effects of amphiphiles such as flavonoids and other aromatic compounds. Amphiphiles may be largely soluble under fully hydrated conditions, but will partition into membranes upon removal of water. Little is known about the effects of amphiphiles on membrane stability and how amphiphile structure and function are related. Here, we have used two of the most intensively studied amphiphiles, tryptophan (Trp) and arbutin (Arb), along with their isolated hydrophilic moieties glycine (Gly) and glucose (Glc) to better understand structure-function relationships in amphiphile-membrane interactions in the dry state.
Fourier-transform infrared (FTIR) spectroscopy was used to measure gel-to-liquid crystalline phase transition temperatures (Tm) of liposomes formed from phosphatidylcholine and phosphatidylethanolamine in the presence of the different additives. In anhydrous samples, both Glc and Arb strongly depressed Tm, independent of lipid composition, while Gly had no measurable effect. Trp, on the other hand, either depressed or increased Tm, depending on lipid composition. We found no evidence for strong interactions of any of the compounds with the lipid carbonyl or choline groups, while all additives except Gly seemed to interact with the phosphate groups. In the case of Arb and Glc, this also had a strong effect on the sugar OH vibrations in the FTIR spectra. In addition, vibrations from the hydrophobic indole and phenol moieties of Trp and Arb, respectively, provided evidence for interactions with the lipid bilayers.
The two amphiphiles Arb and Trp interact differently with dry bilayers. The interactions of Arb are dominated by contributions of the Glc moiety, while the indole governs the effects of Trp. In addition, only Trp-membrane interactions showed a strong influence of lipid composition. Further investigations, using the large structural diversity of plant amphiphiles will help to understand how their structure determines the interaction with membranes and how that influences their biological functions, for example under freezing or dehydration conditions.
PMCID: PMC3726346  PMID: 23879885
Amphiphiles; Arbutin; Desiccation; Fourier-transform infrared spectroscopy; Lipid phase transition; Model membranes; Tryptophan
3.  Cardiolipin's propensity for phase transition and its reorganization by dynamin-related protein 1 form a basis for mitochondrial membrane fission 
Molecular Biology of the Cell  2015;26(17):3104-3116.
Fluid cardiolipin (CL) promotes self-assembly of Drp1, a dynamin-family GTPase involved in mitochondrial fission. Drp1 sequesters CL into condensed membrane platforms and in a GTP-dependent manner increases the propensity of the lipid to undergo a nonbilayer phase transition. CL reorganization generates local membrane constriction for fission.
Cardiolipin (CL) is an atypical, dimeric phospholipid essential for mitochondrial dynamics in eukaryotic cells. Dynamin-related protein 1 (Drp1), a cytosolic member of the dynamin superfamily of large GTPases, interacts with CL and functions to sustain the balance of mitochondrial division and fusion by catalyzing mitochondrial fission. Although recent studies have indicated a role for CL in stimulating Drp1 self-assembly and GTPase activity at the membrane surface, the mechanism by which CL functions in membrane fission, if at all, remains unclear. Here, using a variety of fluorescence spectroscopic and imaging approaches together with model membranes, we demonstrate that Drp1 and CL function cooperatively in effecting membrane constriction toward fission in three distinct steps. These involve 1) the preferential association of Drp1 with CL localized at a high spatial density in the membrane bilayer, 2) the reorganization of unconstrained, fluid-phase CL molecules in concert with Drp1 self-assembly, and 3) the increased propensity of CL to transition from a lamellar, bilayer arrangement to an inverted hexagonal, nonbilayer configuration in the presence of Drp1 and GTP, resulting in the creation of localized membrane constrictions that are primed for fission. Thus we propose that Drp1 and CL function in concert to catalyze mitochondrial division.
PMCID: PMC4551322  PMID: 26157169
4.  Investigating the interaction between peptides of the amphipathic helix of Hcf106 and the phospholipid bilayer by solid-state NMR spectroscopy 
Biochimica et biophysica acta  2013;1838(1):10.1016/j.bbamem.2013.10.007.
The chloroplast twin arginine translocation (cpTat) system transports highly folded precursor proteins into the thylakoid lumen using the protonmotive force as its only energy source. Hcf106, as one of the core components of the cpTat system, is part of the precursor receptor complex and functions in the initial precursor-binding step. Hcf106 is predicted to contain a single amino terminal transmembrane domain followed by a Pro-Gly hinge, a predicted amphipathic α-helix (APH), and a loosely structured carboxy terminus. Hcf106 has been shown biochemically to insert spontaneously into thylakoid membranes. To better understand the membrane active capabilities of Hcf106, we used solid-state NMR spectroscopy to investigate those properties of the APH. In this study, synthesized peptides of the predicted Hcf106 APH (amino acids 28–65) were incorporated at increasing mol% into 1-palmitoyl-2-oleoyl-sn-glycero-phosphocholine (POPC) and POPC/MGDG (monogalactosyldiacylglycerol; mole ratio 85:15) multilamellar vesicles (MLVs) to probe the peptide-lipid interaction. Solid-state 31P NMR and 2H NMR spectroscopic experiments revealed that the peptide perturbs the headgroup and the acyl chain regions of phospholipids as indicated by changes in spectral lineshape, chemical shift anisotropy (CSA) line width, and 2H order SCD parameters. In addition, the comparison between POPC MLVs and POPC/MGDG MLVs indicated that the lipid bilayer composition affected peptide perturbation of the lipids, and such perturbation appeared to be more intense in a system more closely mimicking a thylakoid membrane.
PMCID: PMC3864105  PMID: 24144541
amphipathic helix; membrane active peptide; twin arginine transport; chloroplast TatB
5.  Interaction of organic salts with artificial biological membranes: A model for elucidating cellular interactions† 
Biochimica et biophysica acta  2013;1828(8):1856-1862.
To better understand the relationship between the relative cytotoxicity of diluted ionic liquids and their specific interaction with biological membranes, the thermotropic behavior of model lipid membrane systems formulated in a series of choline based organic salts was investigated. Unilamellar vesicles prepared from dipalmitoylphosphatidylcholine (DPPC) were exposed to a series of choline phosphate salts at a concentration of 10 mM at pH 7.40, and the gel to liquid-crystalline state transition was examined using differential scanning calorimetry. The choline salts that were observed to have a low relative toxicity in previous studies induced minimal changes in the lipid phase transition behavior of these model membranes. In contrast, the salts choline bis(2,4,4-trimethylpentyl)phosphinate (CTMP) and choline bis(2-ethylhexyl)phosphate (CBEH), both of which were observed to have high relative toxicity, caused distinct disruptions in the lipid phase transition behavior, consistent with penetration of the salts into the acyl chains of the phospholipids. CTMP reduced the Tm and enthalpy of the main transition of DPPC while CBEH induced the equilibration of alternate phases.
PMCID: PMC3679659  PMID: 23541906
Ionic liquid; Membrane; Differential scanning calorimetry
6.  Do Small Headgroups of Phosphatidylethanolamine and Phosphatidic Acid Lead to a Similar Folding Pattern of the K+ Channel? 
The Journal of Membrane Biology  2011;242(3):137-143.
Phospholipid headgroups act as major determinants in proper folding of oligomeric membrane proteins. The K+-channel KcsA is the most popular model protein among these complexes. The presence of zwitterionic nonbilayer lipid phosphatidylethanolamine (PE) is crucial for efficient tetramerization and stabilization of KcsA in a lipid bilayer. In this study, the influence of PE on KcsA folding properties was analyzed by tryptophan fluorescence and acrylamide quenching experiments and compared with the effect of anionic phosphatidic acid (PA). The preliminary studies suggest that the small size and hydrogen bonding capability of the PE headgroup influences KcsA folding via a mechanism quite similar to that observed for anionic PA.
PMCID: PMC3146712  PMID: 21744243
Assembly and stability; Hydrogen bonding; KcsA potassium channel; Lipid bilayers; Phosphatidic acid; Phosphatidylethanolamine; Protein–lipid interaction
7.  Arabidopsis thaliana Polar Glycerolipid Profiling by Thin Layer Chromatography (TLC) Coupled with Gas-Liquid Chromatography (GLC) 
Biological membranes separate cells from the environment. From a single cell to multicellular plants and animals, glycerolipids, such as phosphatidylcholine or phosphatidylethanolamine, form bilayer membranes which act as both boundaries and interfaces for chemical exchange between cells and their surroundings. Unlike animals, plant cells have a special organelle for photosynthesis, the chloroplast. The intricate membrane system of the chloroplast contains unique glycerolipids, namely glycolipids lacking phosphorus: monogalactosyldiacylglycerol (MGDG), digalactosyldiacylglycerol (DGDG), sulfoquinovosyldiacylglycerol (SQDG)4. The roles of these lipids are beyond simply structural. These glycolipids and other glycerolipids were found in the crystal structures of photosystem I and II indicating the involvement of glycerolipids in photosynthesis8,11. During phosphate starvation, DGDG is transferred to extraplastidic membranes to compensate the loss of phospholipids9,12.
Much of our knowledge of the biosynthesis and function of these lipids has been derived from a combination of genetic and biochemical studies with Arabidopsis thaliana14. During these studies, a simple procedure for the analysis of polar lipids has been essential for the screening and analysis of lipid mutants and will be outlined in detail. A leaf lipid extract is first separated by thin layer chromatography (TLC) and glycerolipids are stained reversibly with iodine vapor. The individual lipids are scraped from the TLC plate and converted to fatty acyl methylesters (FAMEs), which are analyzed by gas-liquid chromatography coupled with flame ionization detection (FID-GLC) (Figure 1). This method has been proven to be a reliable tool for mutant screening. For example, the tgd1,2,3,4 endoplasmic reticulum-to-plastid lipid trafficking mutants were discovered based on the accumulation of an abnormal galactoglycerolipid: trigalactosyldiacylglycerol (TGDG) and a decrease in the relative amount of 18:3 (carbons : double bonds) fatty acyl groups in membrane lipids 3,13,18,20. This method is also applicable for determining enzymatic activities of proteins using lipids as substrate6.
PMCID: PMC3197303  PMID: 21445048
8.  Lipid Polymorphisms and Membrane Shape 
Morphological plasticity of biological membrane is critical for cellular life, as cells need to quickly rearrange their membranes. Yet, these rearrangements are constrained in two ways. First, membrane transformations may not lead to undesirable mixing of, or leakage from, the participating cellular compartments. Second, membrane systems should be metastable at large length scales, ensuring the correct function of the particular organelle and its turnover during cellular division. Lipids, through their ability to exist with many shapes (polymorphism), provide an adequate construction material for cellular membranes. They can self-assemble into shells that are very flexible, albeit hardly stretchable, which allows for their far-reaching morphological and topological behaviors. In this article, we will discuss the importance of lipid polymorphisms in the shaping of membranes and its role in controlling cellular membrane morphology.
Three factors contributing to morphological plasticity in cell membranes include nonbilayer lipids (e.g., phosphatidylethanolamine and diacylglycerol), trans-bilayer asymmetry, and lateral segregation of protein and lipid species.
PMCID: PMC3220359  PMID: 21646378
9.  Differential regulation of two types of monogalactosyldiacylglycerol synthase in membrane lipid remodeling under phosphate-limited conditions in sesame plants 
Phosphate (Pi) limitation causes drastic lipid remodeling in plant membranes. Glycolipids substitute for the phospholipids that are degraded, thereby supplying Pi needed for essential biological processes. Two major types of remodeling of membrane lipids occur in higher plants: whereas one involves an increase in the concentration of sulfoquinovosyldiacylglycerol in plastids to compensate for a decreased concentration of phosphatidylglycerol, the other involves digalactosyldiacylglycerol (DGDG) synthesis in plastids and the export of DGDG to extraplastidial membranes to compensate for reduced abundances of phospholipids. Lipid remodeling depends on an adequate supply of monogalactosyldiacylglycerol (MGDG), which is a substrate that supports the elevated rate of DGDG synthesis that is induced by low Pi availability. Regulation of MGDG synthesis has been analyzed most extensively using the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana, although orthologous genes that encode putative MGDG synthases exist in photosynthetic organisms from bacteria to higher plants. We recently hypothesized that two types of MGDG synthase diverged after the appearance of seed plants. This divergence might have both enabled plants to adapt to a wide range of Pi availability in soils and contributed to the diversity of seed plants. In the work presented here, we found that membrane lipid remodeling also takes place in sesame, which is one of the most common traditional crops grown in Asia. We identified two types of MGDG synthase from sesame (encoded by SeMGD1 and SeMGD2) and analyzed their enzymatic properties. Our results show that both genes correspond to the Arabidopsis type-A and -B isoforms of MGDG synthase. Notably, whereas Pi limitation up-regulates only the gene encoding the type-B isoform of Arabidopsis, low Pi availability up-regulates the expression of both SeMGD1 and SeMGD2. We discuss the significance of the different responses to low Pi availability in sesame and Arabidopsis.
PMCID: PMC3832787  PMID: 24312111
galactolipid; monogalactosyldiacylglycerol; phosphate deficiency; sesame
10.  Thermotropic lateral translational motion of intramembrane particles in the inner mitochondrial membrane and its inhibition by artificial peripheral proteins 
The Journal of Cell Biology  1977;72(2):278-291.
Freeze fracturing and deep etching have been used to study thermotropic lateral translational motion of intramembrane particles and membrane surface anionic groups in the inner mitochondrial membrane. When the inner membrane is equilibrated at low temperature, the fracture faces of both halves of the membrane reveal a lateral separation between intramembrane particles and particle free, large smooth patches. Such separation is completely reversed through free lateral translational diffusion by reversing the temperature. The low temperature induced, particle-free, smooth membrane patches appear to represent regions of protein-excluding, ordered bilayer lipid which form during thermotropic liquid crystalline to gel state phase transitions. When polycationic ferritin is electrostatically bound to anionic groups exposed at the membrane surface at concentrations which inhibit the activities of cytochrome c oxidase and succinate permease, the bound ferritin migrates with intramembrane particles during the thermotropic lateral separation between the membrane particles and smooth patches. When bound polycationic ferritin is cross-bridged with native ferritin, an artificial peripheral protein lattice forms in association with the surface anionic groups and diminishes the thermotropic lateral translational motion of intramembrane particles in the membrane. These results reveal that the anionic groups of metabolically active integral proteins which are known to be exposed at the surface of the inner mitochondrial membrane migrate with intramembrane particles in the plane of the membrane under conditions which induce lipid-protein lateral separations. In addition, cross-bridging of the anionic groups through an artificial peripheral protein lattice appears to diminish such induced lipid protein lateral separations.
PMCID: PMC2111005  PMID: 833199
11.  Trehalose-Protected Lipid Membranes for Determining Membrane Protein Structure and Insertion 
Trehalose preserves lipid bilayers during dehydration and rehydration by replacing water to form hydrogen bonds between its own OH groups and lipid headgroups. We compare the lipid conformation and dynamics between trehalose-protected lyophilized membranes and hydrated membranes, to assess the suitability of the trehalose-containing membrane as a matrix for membrane protein structure determination. 31P spectra indicate that the lipid headgroup of trehalose-protected dry POPC membrane (TRE-POPC) have an effective phase transition temperature that is ~50 K higher than that of the hydrated POPC membrane. In contrast, the acyl chains have similar transition temperatures in the two membranes. Intramolecular lipid 13C’-31P distances are the same in TRE-POPC and crystalline POPC, indicating that the lipid headgroup and glycerol backbone conformation is unaffected by trehalose incorporation. Intermolecular 13C-31P distances between a membrane peptide and the lipid headgroups are 10% longer in the hydrated membrane at 226 K than in the trehalose-protected dry membrane at 253 K. This is attributed to residual motions in the hydrated membrane, manifested by the reduced 31P chemical shift anisotropy, even at the low temperature of 226 K. Thus, trehalose lyoprotection facilitates the study of membrane protein structure by allowing experiments to be conducted at higher temperatures than possible with the hydrated membranes.
PMCID: PMC2561142  PMID: 17084650
trehalose; lipid bilayers; 13C-31P distances; membrane peptide structure; solid-state NMR
12.  Roles of Arginine and Lysine Residues in the Translocation of a Cell-Penetrating Peptide from 13C, 31P and 19F Solid-State NMR 
Biochemistry  2009;48(21):4587-4595.
Cell-penetrating peptides (CPPs) are small cationic peptides that cross the cell membrane while carrying macromolecular cargoes. We use solid-state NMR to investigate the structure and lipid interaction of two cationic residues, Arg10 and Lys13, in the CPP penetratin. 13C chemical shifts indicate that Arg10 adopts a rigid β-strand conformation in the liquid-crystalline state of anionic lipid membranes. This behavior contrasts with all other residues observed so far in this peptide, which adopt a dynamic β-turn conformation with coil-like chemical shifts at physiological temperature. Low-temperature 13C-31P distances between the peptide and the lipid phosphates indicate that both the Arg10 guanidinium Cζ and the Lys13 Cε lie in close proximity to the lipid 31P (4.0 - 4.2 Å), proving the existence of charge-charge interaction for both Arg10 and Lys13 in the gel-phase membrane. However, since lysine substitution in CPPs are known to reduce their translocation ability, we propose that low temperature stabilizes both lysine and arginine interactions with the phosphates, whereas at high temperature the lysine-phosphate interaction is much weaker than the arginine-phosphate interaction. This is supported by the unusually high rigidity of the Arg10 sidechain and its β-strand conformation at high temperature. The latter is proposed to be important for ion pair formation by allowing close approach of the lipid headgroups to guanidinium sidechains. 19F and 13C spin diffusion experiments indicate that penetratin is oligomerized into β-sheets in gel-phase membranes. These solid-state NMR data indicate that guanidinium-phosphate interactions exist in penetratin, and guanidinium groups play a stronger structural role than ammonium groups in the lipid-assisted translocation of CPPs across liquid-crystalline cell membranes.
PMCID: PMC2723743  PMID: 19364134
cell-penetrating peptide; lipid bilayer; guanidinium-phosphate interaction; 13C-31P REDOR; arginine; lysine
13.  The Storage Lipids in Tangier Disease 
Journal of Clinical Investigation  1977;59(6):1045-1054.
The physical states and phase behavior of the lipids of the spleen, liver, and splenic artery from a 38-yr-old man with Tangier disease were studied. Many intracellular lipid droplets in the smectic liquid crystalline state were identified by polarizing microscopy in macrophages in both the spleen and liver, but not in the splenic artery. The droplets within individual cells melted sharply over a narrow temperature range, indicating a uniform lipid composition of the droplets of each cell. However different cells melted over a wide range, 20-53°C indicating heterogeneity of lipid droplet composition between cells. Furthermore, most of the cells (81%) had droplets in the liquid crystalline state at 37°C. X-ray diffraction studies of splenic tissue at 37°C revealed a diffraction pattern typical of cholesterol esters in the smectic liquid crystalline state. Differential scanning calorimetry of spleen showed a broad reversible transition from 29-52°C, with a maximum mean transition temperature at 42°C, correlating closely with the polarizing microscopy observations. The enthalpy of the transition, 0.86±0.07 cal/g of cholesterol ester, was quantitatively similar to that of the liquid crystalline to liquid transition of pure cholesterol esters indicating that nearly all of the cholesterol esters in the tissue were free to undergo the smectic-isotropic phase transition.
Lipid compositions of spleen and liver were determined, and when plotted on the cholesterol-phospholipid-cholesterol ester phase diagram, fell within the two phase zone. The two phases, cholesterol ester droplets and phospholipid bilayers were isolated by ultracentrifugation of tissue homogenates. Lipid compositions of the separated phases approximated those predicted by the phase diagram. Extracted lipids from the spleen, when dispersed in water and ultracentrifuged, underwent phase separation in a similar way. Thus (a) most of the storage lipids in the liver and spleen of this patient were in the liquid crystalline state at body temperature, (b) the phase behavior of the storage lipids conformed to that predicted by lipid model systems indicating lipid-lipid interactions predominate in affected cells, (c) lipid droplets within individual cells have similar compositions, whereas droplet composition varies from cell to cell, and (d) cholesterol ester does not accumulate in the splenic artery. Since Tangier patients lack high density lipoprotein, we conclude that high density lipoprotein-mediated cholesterol removal from cells is essential only for those cells which have an obligate intake of cholesterol (macrophages).
PMCID: PMC372316  PMID: 193870
14.  Comparative Analysis of Membrane Lipids in Psychrophilic and Mesophilic Freshwater Dinoflagellates 
Here we report the lipid profiles of ten dinoflagellate species originating from different freshwater habitats and grown at 4, 13, or 20°C akin to their natural occurrence. Lipids were determined by High Performance Liquid Chromatography-ElectroSpray Ionization-Mass Spectrometry in positive and negative ion modes. Besides the well-studied monogalactosyldiacylglycerol (MGDG) and digalactosyldiacylglycerol (DGDG) lipids, our study revealed the presence of intact molecular lipid species of trigalactosyldiacylglycerols, betaine diacylglyceryl-carboxyhydroxymethylcholine, sulfolipid sulfoquinovosyldiacylglycerols (SQDG) and phospholipids, in particular phosphatidylcholine, phosphatidylethanolamine and phosphatidylglycerol. In multivariate ordination, the freshwater dinoflagellates studied could be distinguished into two groups based on their lipid profiles. Peridinium aciculiferum, Borghiella dodgei, B. tenuissima and Tovellia coronata belonged to group 1 while Ceratium cornutum, Gymnodinium palustre, Jadwigia applanata, P. cinctum, P. willei, and P. gatunense belonged to group 2. Indicator species analysis evidenced that group 1 was characterized by 36:9 MGDG and 36:9 DGDG and group 2 by 38:9 and 38:10 MGDG, 38:9 and 38:10 DGDG and 34:1 SQDG. We suggest that the grouping of dinoflagellates indicated their range of temperature tolerance. Furthermore, non-thylakoid lipids were linked to dinoflagellate phylogeny based on the large ribosomal sub-unit (28S LSU) rather than their temperature tolerance. Thus certain lipids better reflected habitat adaptation while other lipids better reflected genetic diversity.
PMCID: PMC4837943  PMID: 27148341
membrane lipids; freshwater dinoflagellates; cold adaptation; RPLC-ESI-IT-MS; multivariate data analysis
15.  Depletion of Phosphatidylcholine in Yeast Induces Shortening and Increased Saturation of the Lipid Acyl Chains: Evidence for Regulation of Intrinsic Membrane Curvature in a Eukaryote 
Molecular Biology of the Cell  2006;17(2):1006-1017.
To study the consequences of depleting the major membrane phospholipid phosphatidylcholine (PC), exponentially growing cells of a yeast cho2opi3 double deletion mutant were transferred from medium containing choline to choline-free medium. Cell growth did not cease until the PC level had dropped below 2% of total phospholipids after four to five generations. Increasing contents of phosphatidylethanolamine (PE) and phosphatidylinositol made up for the loss of PC. During PC depletion, the remaining PC was subject to acyl chain remodeling with monounsaturated species replacing diunsaturated species, as shown by mass spectrometry. The remodeling of PC did not require turnover by the SPO14-encoded phospholipase D. The changes in the PC species profile were found to reflect an overall shift in the cellular acyl chain composition that exhibited a 40% increase in the ratio of C16 over C18 acyl chains, and a 10% increase in the degree of saturation. The shift was stronger in the phospholipid than in the neutral lipid fraction and strongest in the species profile of PE. The shortening and increased saturation of the PE acyl chains were shown to decrease the nonbilayer propensity of PE. The results point to a regulatory mechanism in yeast that maintains intrinsic membrane curvature in an optimal range.
PMCID: PMC1356607  PMID: 16339082
16.  Regulation of Galactolipid Biosynthesis by Overexpression of the Rice MGD Gene Contributes to Enhanced Aluminum Tolerance in Tobacco 
Membrane lipid alterations affect Al tolerance in plants, but little is known about the regulation of membrane lipid metabolism in response to Al stress. Transgenic tobacco (Nicotiana tabacum) overexpressing rice monogalactosyldiacylglycerol (MGDG) synthase (OsMGD) gene and wild-type tobacco plants were exposed to AlCl3, and the impact of Al toxicity on root growth, Al accumulation, plasma membrane integrity, lipid peroxidation and membrane lipid composition were investigated. Compared with the wild type, the transgenic plants exhibited rapid regrowth of roots after removal of Al and less damage to membrane integrity and lipid peroxidation under Al stress, meanwhile, the Al accumulation showed no difference between wild-type and transgenic plants. Lipid analysis showed that Al treatment dramatically decreased the content of MGDG and the ratio of MGDG to digalactosyldiacylglycerol (DGDG) in wild-type plants, while it was unchanged in transgenic plants. The stable of MGDG level and the ratio of MGDG/DGDG contribute to maintain the membrane stability and permeability. Moreover, Al caused a significant increase in phospholipids in wild-type plants, resulting in a high proportion of phospholipids and low proportion of galactolipids, but these proportions were unaffected in transgenic plants. The high proportion of phospholipids could contribute to a higher rate of Al3+ binding in the membrane and thereby leads to more membrane perturbation and damage. These results show that the regulation of galactolipid biosynthesis could play an important role in maintaining membrane structure and function under Al stress.
PMCID: PMC4811928  PMID: 27066017
aluminum; monogalactosyldiacylglycerol; galactolipid; phospholipid; membrane integrity
17.  A Cytochrome b5-Containing Plastid-Located Fatty Acid Desaturase from Chlamydomonas reinhardtii 
Eukaryotic Cell  2012;11(7):856-863.
Monogalactosyldiacylglycerol (MGDG) in Chlamydomonas reinhardtii and other green algae contains hexadeca-4,7,10,13-tetraenoic acid (16:4) in the glycerol sn-2 position. While many genes necessary for the introduction of acyl chain double bonds have been functionally characterized, the Δ4-desaturase remained unknown. Using a phylogenetic comparison, a candidate gene encoding the MGDG-specific Δ4-desaturase from Chlamydomonas (CrΔ4FAD) was identified. CrΔ4FAD shows all characteristic features of a membrane-bound desaturase, including three histidine boxes and a transit peptide for chloroplast targeting. But it also has an N-terminal cytochrome b5 domain, distinguishing it from other known plastid desaturases. Cytochrome b5 is the primary electron donor for endoplasmic reticulum (ER) desaturases and is often fused to the desaturase domain in desaturases modifying the carboxyl end of the acyl group. Difference absorbance spectra of the recombinant cytochrome b5 domain of CrΔ4FAD showed that it is functional in vitro. Green fluorescent protein fusions of CrΔ4FAD localized to the plastid envelope in Chlamydomonas. Interestingly, overproduction of CrΔ4FAD in Chlamydomonas not only increased levels of 16:4 acyl groups in cell extracts but specifically increased the total amount of MGDG. Vice versa, the amount of MGDG was lowered in lines with reduced levels of CrΔ4FAD. These data suggest a link between MGDG molecular species composition and galactolipid abundance in the alga, as well as a specific function for this fatty acid in MGDG.
PMCID: PMC3416504  PMID: 22562471
18.  Synthesis and Characterization of Betaine-like Diacyl Lipids: Zwitterionic Lipids with the Cationic Group at the Bilayer Interface 
Chemistry and Physics of Lipids  2012;165(2):252-259.
We synthesized and characterized a series of zwitterionic, acetate-terminated, quaternized amine diacyl lipids (AQ). These lipids have an inverted headgroup orientation as compared to naturally occurring phosphatidylcholine (PC) lipids; the cationic group is anchored at the membrane interface, while the anionic group extends into the aqueous phase. AQ lipids preferentially interact with highly polarizable anions (ClO4−) over less polarizable ions (Cl−), in accord with the Hofmeister series, as measured by the change in zeta potential of AQ liposomes. Conversely, AQ lipids have a weaker association with calcium than do PC lipids. The transition temperatures (Tm) of the AQ lipids are similar to the Tm observed with phosphatidylethanolamine (PE) lipids of the same chain length. AQ lipids form large lipid sheets after heating and sonication; however, in the presence of cholesterol, (Chol) these lipids form stable liposomes that encapsulate carboxyfluorescein. The AQ:Chol liposomes retain their contents in the presence of serum at 37 °C, and when injected intravenously into mice, their organ biodistribution is similar to that observed with PC:Chol liposomes. AQ lipids demonstrate that modulating the headgroup charge orientation significantly alters the biophysical properties of liposomes. For the drug carrier field, these new materials provide a non-phosphate containing zwitterlipid for the production of lipid vesicles.
PMCID: PMC3288814  PMID: 22301334
charge orientation; drug carriers; lipid vesicle; nanotechnology; permeability
19.  Biochemical and Molecular-Genetic Characterization of SFD1’s Involvement in Lipid Metabolism and Defense Signaling 
The Arabidopsis thaliana SFD1 (suppressor of fatty acid desaturase deficiency1) gene (also known as GLY1) is required for accumulation of 34:6 (i.e., 18:3–16:3) monogalactosyldiacylglycerol (MGDG) and for the activation of systemic acquired resistance (SAR), an inducible defense mechanism that confers resistance against a broad spectrum of pathogens. SFD1, which has been suggested to be involved in lipid-based signaling in SAR, contains a putative chloroplast transit peptide and has glycerol-3-phosphate synthesizing dihydroxyacetone phosphate (DHAP) reductase (also referred as glycerol-3-phosphate dehydrogenase) activity. The goals of this study were to determine if the DHAP reductase activity and chloroplast localization are required for SFD1’s involvement in galactolipid metabolism and SAR signaling. The crystal structure of a Leishmania mexicana glycerol-3-phosphate dehydrogenase was used to model SFD1 structure and identify Lys194, Lys279, and Asp332 as potential catalytic site residues in SFD1. Mutational analysis of SFD1 confirmed that Lys194, Lys279, and Asp332 are critical for SFD1’s DHAP reductase activity, and its involvement in SAR. SFD1 proteins with these residues individually substituted by Ala lacked DHAP reductase activity and were unable to complement the SAR defect of the sfd1 mutant. The SFD1–Ala279 protein was also unable to restore 34:6-MGDG content when expressed in the sfd1 mutant. In vivo imaging of a green fluorescent protein-tagged SFD1 protein demonstrated that SFD1 is targeted to the chloroplast. The N-terminal 43 amino acids, which are required for proper targeting of SFD1 to the chloroplast, are also required for SFD1’s function in lipid metabolism and SAR. Taken together, these results demonstrate that SFD1’s DHAP reductase activity is required in the chloroplast for lipid metabolism and defense signaling.
PMCID: PMC3355749  PMID: 22645576
lipid signaling; plant defense; systemic acquired resistance
20.  A J-Like Protein Influences Fatty Acid Composition of Chloroplast Lipids in Arabidopsis 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(10):e25368.
A comprehensive understanding of the lipid and fatty acid metabolic machinery is needed for optimizing production of oils and fatty acids for fuel, industrial feedstocks and nutritional improvement in plants. T-DNA mutants in the poorly annotated Arabidopsis thaliana gene At1g08640 were identified as containing moderately high levels (50–100%) of 16∶1Δ7 and 18∶1Δ9 leaf fatty acids and subtle decreases (5–30%) of 16∶3 and 18∶3 ( TLC separation of fatty acids in the leaf polar lipids revealed that the chloroplastic galactolipids monogalactosyldiacylglycerol (MGDG) and digalactosyldiacylglycerol (DGDG) were the main lipid types affected by this mutation. Analysis of the inferred amino acid sequence of At1g08640 predicted the presence of a transit peptide, three transmembrane domains and an N-terminal J-like domain, and the gene was named CJD1 for Chloroplast J-like Domain 1. GFP reporter experiments and in vitro chloroplast import assays demonstrated CJD1 is a chloroplast membrane protein. Screening of an Arabidopsis cDNA library by yeast-2-hybrid (Y2H) using the J-like domain of CJD1 as bait identified a plastidial inner envelope protein (Accumulation and Replication of Chloroplasts 6, ARC6) as the primary interacting partner in the Y2H assay. ARC6 plays a central role in chloroplast division and binds CJD1 via its own J-like domain along with an adjacent conserved region whose function is not fully known. These results provide a starting point for future investigations of how mutations in CJD1 affect lipid composition.
PMCID: PMC3196505  PMID: 22028775
21.  Interaction between Soluble and Membrane-Embedded Potassium Channel Peptides Monitored by Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(11):e49070.
Recent studies have explored the utility of Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR) in dynamic monitoring of soluble protein-protein interactions. Here, we investigated the applicability of FTIR to detect interaction between synthetic soluble and phospholipid-embedded peptides corresponding to, respectively, a voltage-gated potassium (Kv) channel inactivation domain (ID) and S4–S6 of the Shaker Kv channel (KV1; including the S4–S5 linker “pre-inactivation” ID binding site). KV1 was predominantly α-helical at 30°C when incorporated into dimyristoyl-l-α-phosphatidylcholine (DMPC) bilayers. Cooling to induce a shift in DMPC from liquid crystalline to gel phase reversibly decreased KV1 helicity, and was previously shown to partially extrude a synthetic S4 peptide. While no interaction was detected in liquid crystalline DMPC, upon cooling to induce the DMPC gel phase a reversible amide I peak (1633 cm−1) consistent with novel hydrogen bond formation was detected. This spectral shift was not observed for KV1 in the absence of ID (or vice versa), nor when the non-inactivating mutant V7E ID was applied to KV1 under similar conditions. Alteration of salt or redox conditions affected KV1-ID hydrogen bonding in a manner suggesting electrostatic KV1-ID interaction favored by a hairpin conformation for the ID and requiring extrusion of one or more KV1 domains from DMPC, consistent with ID binding to S4–S5. These findings support the utility of FTIR in detecting reversible interactions between soluble and membrane-embedded proteins, with lipid state-sensitivity of the conformation of the latter facilitating control of the interaction.
PMCID: PMC3493504  PMID: 23145073
22.  Natural lipid extracts and biomembrane-mimicking lipid compositions are disposed to form nonlamellar phases, and they release DNA from lipoplexes most efficiently 
Biochimica et biophysica acta  2007;1768(10):2373-2382.
A viewpoint now emerging is that a critical factor in lipid-mediated transfection (lipofection) is the structural evolution of lipoplexes upon interacting and mixing with cellular lipids. Here we report our finding that lipid mixtures mimicking biomembrane lipid compositions are superior to pure anionic liposomes in their ability to release DNA from lipoplexes (cationic lipid/DNA complexes), even though they have a much lower negative charge density (and thus lower capacity to neutralize the positive charge of the lipoplex lipids). Flow fluorometry revealed that the portion of DNA released after a 30 min incubation of the cationic O-ethylphosphatidylcholine lipoplexes with the anionic phosphatidylserine or phosphatidylglycerol was 19% and 37%, respectively, whereas a mixture mimicking biomembranes (MM: phosphatidylcholine/phosphatidylethanolamine/ phosphatidylserine/cholesterol 45:20:20:15 w/w) and polar lipid extract from bovine liver released 62% and 74%, respectively, of the DNA content. A possible reason for this superior power in releasing DNA by the natural lipid mixtures was suggested by structural experiments: while pure anionic lipids typically form lamellae, the natural lipid mixtures exhibited a surprising predilection to form nonlamellar phases. Thus, the MM mixture arranged into lamellar arrays at physiological temperature, but began to convert to the hexagonal phase at a slightly higher temperature, ∼40-45°C. A propensity to form nonlamellar phases (hexagonal, cubic, micellar) at close to physiological temperatures was also found with the lipid extracts from natural tissues (from bovine liver, brain, and heart). This result reveals that electrostatic interactions are only one of the factors involved in lipid-mediated DNA delivery. The tendency of lipid bilayers to form nonlamellar phases has been described in terms of bilayer “frustration” which imposes a nonzero intrinsic curvature of the two opposing monolayers. Because the stored curvature elastic energy in a “frustrated” bilayer seems to be comparable to the binding energy between cationic lipid and DNA, the balance between these two energies could play a significant role in the lipoplex-membrane interactions and DNA release energetics.
PMCID: PMC2151838  PMID: 17559800
lipid phase transition; surface charge; cationic lipid; DNA unbinding; transfection
23.  Simulation study of the structure and phase behavior of ceramide bilayers and the role of lipid head group chemistry 
Ceramides are known to be a key component of the stratum corneum, the outermost protective layer of the skin that controls barrier function. In this work, molecular dynamics simulations are used to examine the behavior of ceramide bilayers, focusing on non-hydroxy sphingosine (NS) and non-hydroxy phytosphingosine (NP) ceramides. Here, we propose a modified version of the CHARMM force field for ceramide simulation, which is directly compared to the more commonly used GROMOS-based force field of Berger (Biophys. J. 1997, 72); while both force fields are shown to closely match experiment from a structural standpoint at the physiological temperature of skin, the modified CHARMM force field is better able to capture the thermotropic phase transitions observed in experiment. The role of ceramide chemistry and its impact on structural ordering is examined by comparing ceramide NS to NP, using the validated CHARMM-based force field. These simulations demonstrate that changing from ceramide NS to NP results in changes to the orientation of the OH groups in the lipid headgroups. The arrangement of OH groups perpendicular to the bilayer normal for ceramide NP, verse parallel for NS, results in the formation of a distinct hydrogen bonding network, that is ultimately responsible for shifting the gel-to-liquid phase transition to higher temperature, in direct agreement with experiment.
PMCID: PMC3911788  PMID: 24501589
ceramides; force field comparison; phase transition behavior; head group chemistry
24.  Interactions between Ether Phospholipids and Cholesterol as Determined by Scattering and Molecular Dynamics Simulations 
The journal of physical chemistry. B  2012;116(51):14829-14838.
Cholesterol and ether lipids are ubiquitous in mammalian cell membranes, and their interactions are crucial in ether lipid mediated cholesterol trafficking. We report on cholesterol’s molecular interactions with ether lipids as determined using a combination of small-angle neutron and X-ray scattering, and all-atom molecular dynamics (MD) simulations. A scattering density profile model for an ether lipid bilayer was developed using MD simulations, which was then used to simultaneously fit the different experimental scattering data. From the analysis of the data the various bilayer structural parameters were obtained. Surface area constrained MD simulations were also performed to reproduce the experimental data. This iterative analysis approach resulted in good agreement between the experimental and simulated form factors. The molecular interactions taking place between cholesterol and ether lipids were then determined from the validated MD simulations. We found that in ether membranes, cholesterol primarily hydrogen bonds with the lipid headgroup phosphate oxygen, while in their ester membrane counterparts, cholesterol hydrogen bonds with the backbone ester carbonyls. This different mode of interaction between ether lipids and cholesterol induces cholesterol to reside closer to the bilayer surface, dehydrating the headgroup’s phosphate moiety. Moreover, the three-dimensional lipid chain spatial density distribution around cholesterol indicates anisotropic chain packing, causing cholesterol to tilt. These insights lend a better understanding of ether lipid mediated cholesterol trafficking and the roles that the different lipid species have in determining the structural and dynamical properties of membrane associated biomolecules.
PMCID: PMC3539752  PMID: 23199292
lipid bilayer; lipid area; bilayer thickness; ether linkage; spatial density distribution; hydrogen bonding
25.  Structure and Thermotropic phase Behavior of Fluorinated Phospholipid Bilayers: A combined Attenuated Total Reflection FTIR Spectroscopy and Imaging Ellipsometry Study 
The journal of physical chemistry. B  2008;112(28):8250-8256.
Lipid bilayers consisting of lipids with terminally perfluoroalkylated chains have remarkable properties. They exhibit increased stability and phase-separated nanoscale patterns in mixtures with nonfluorinated lipids. In order to understand the bilayer properties that are responsible for this behavior, we have analyzed the structure of solid-supported bilayers composed of 1,2-dipalmitoyl-sn-glycero-3-phosphocholine (DPPC) and of a DPPC analogue with 6 terminal perfluorinated methylene units (F6-DPPC). Polarized attenuated total reflection Fourier-transform infrared spectroscopy indicates that for F6-DPPC, the tilt of the lipid acyl chains to the bilayer normal is increased to 39° as compared to 21° for native DPPC, for both lipids in the gel phase. This substantial increase of the tilt angle is responsible for a decrease of the bilayer thickness from 5.4 nm for DPPC to 4.5 nm for F6-DPPC, as revealed by temperature-controlled imaging ellipsometry on microstructured lipid bilayers and solution atomic force microscopy. During the main phase transition from the gel to the fluid phase, both the relative bilayer thickness change and the relative area change are substantially smaller for F6-DPPC than for DPPC. In light of these structural and thermotropic data, we propose a model in which the higher acyl-chain tilt angle in F6-DPPC is the result of a conformational rearrangement to minimize unfavorable fluorocarbon–hydrocarbon interactions in the center of the bilayer due to chain staggering.
PMCID: PMC2518959  PMID: 18563929

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