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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Transverse and lateral distribution of phospholipids and glycolipids in the membrane of the bacterium Micrococcus luteus.

The photodimerization of anthracene was used to investigate the transverse and lateral distribution of lipids in the membrane of the Gram-positive bacterium Micrococcus luteus. 9-(2-Anthryl)nonanoic acid (9-AN) is incorporated at a high rate into various membrane lipids of M. luteus. On irradiation of intact bacteria at 360 nm, anthracene-labeled lipids form stable photodimers which can be extracted and separated by thin-layer chromatography. We present here the results of a study on the distribution of two major lipids, phosphatidylglycerol (PG) and dimannosyldiacylglycerol (DMDG), within each leaflet of the membrane lipid bilayer. After metabolic incorporation of a tritiated derivative of 9-AN in M. luteus, the radioactivity associated with the photodimers issued from PG and DMDG was counted. In the bacterial membrane, the ratio of PG-DMDG heterodimer with respect to PG-PG and DMDG-DMDG homodimers is around half of what should be obtained for a homogeneous mixture of the two lipids. In order to find out whether this was due to an asymmetric distribution of the two lipids between the two membrane leaflets or a heterogeneous distribution of the two lipids within the same membrane leaflet, the transverse distribution of PG and DMDG was also investigated. This was carried out by following the kinetics of oxidation of the two lipids by periodic acid in the membrane of M. luteus protoplasts. PG predominated slightly in the outer layer (60%), while DMDG was found to be symmetrically distributed between the two leaflets. By itself, this lipid asymmetry cannot account for the lipid distribution determined from the photodimerization experiments. This indicates that PG and DMDG are not homogeneously distributed in the plane of the bacterial membrane.[1]


  1. Transverse and lateral distribution of phospholipids and glycolipids in the membrane of the bacterium Micrococcus luteus. de Bony, J., Lopez, A., Gilleron, M., Welby, M., Lanéelle, G., Rousseau, B., Beaucourt, J.P., Tocanne, J.F. Biochemistry (1989) [Pubmed]
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