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

The cryoprotectant trehalose destabilises the bilayer organisation of Escherichia coli-derived membrane systems at elevated temperatures as determined by 2H and 31P-NMR.

In this study, 2H and 31P-NMR techniques were used to study the effects of trehalose and glycerol on phase transitions and lipid acyl chain order of membrane systems derived from cells of E. coli unsaturated fatty acid auxotroph strain K1059, which was grown in the presence of [11,11-2H2]-oleic acid or [11,11-2H2]-elaidic acid. From an analysis of the temperature dependence of the quadrupolar splitting it could be concluded that neither 1 M trehalose or glycerol generally had any significant effect on the temperature of the lamellar gel to liquid-crystalline phase transition. In the case of the oleate-containing hydrated total lipid extract, glycerol but not trehalose caused a 5 degrees C increase of this transition temperature. In general, both cryoprotectants induced an ordering of the acyl chains in the liquid-crystalline state. Trehalose and glycerol both decrease the bilayer to non-bilayer transition temperature of the hydrated lipid extract of oleate-grown cells by about 5 degrees C, but only trehalose in addition induces an isotropic to hexagonal (HII) phase transition. In the biological membranes, trehalose and not glycerol destabilised the lipid bilayer, and in the case of the E. coli spheroplasts, part of the induced non-bilayer structures is ascribed to a hexagonal (HII) phase in analogy with the total lipids. Interestingly, 1 mM Mg2+ was a prerequisite for the destabilisation of the lipid bilayer. In the hydrated total lipid extract of E. coli grown on the more ordered elaidic acid, both transition temperatures were shifted about 20 degrees C upwards compared with the oleate-containing lipid, but the effect of trehalose on the lipid phase behaviour was similar. The bilayer destabilising ability of trehalose might have implications for the possible protection of biological systems by (cryo-)protectants during dehydration, in that protection is unlikely to be caused by preventing the occurrence of polymorphic phase transitions.[1]


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