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The mechanism whereby bacteriorhodopsin (BR), the light driven proton pump from the purple membrane of Halobacterium halobium, arranges in a 2D-hexagonal array, has been studied in bilayers containing the protein, 1,2-dimyristoyl-sn-glycero-3-phosphocholine (DMPC) and various fractions of H. halobium membrane lipids, by freeze fracture electron microscopy and examination of optical diffractograms of the micrographs obtained. Electron micrographs of BR/DMPC complexes containing the entire polar lipid component of H. halobium cell membranes or the total lipid component of the purple membrane, with a protein-to-total lipid molar ratio of less than 1:50 and to which 4 M NaCl had been added, revealed that trimers of BR formed into an hexagonal 2D-array similar to that found in the native purple membrane, suggesting that one or more types of the purple membrane polar lipids are required for array formation. To support this suggestion, bacteriorhodopsin was purified free of endogenous purple membrane lipids and reconstituted into lipid bilayer complexes by detergent dialysis. The lipids used to form these complexes are 1,2-dimyristoyl-sn-glycerol-phosphocholine (DMPC) as the major lipid and, separately, each of the individual lipid types from the H. halobium cell membranes, namely 2,3-di-O-phytanyl-sn-glycero-1-phosphoryl-3'-sn-glycerol 1'-phosphate (DPhPGP), 2,3-di-O-phytanyl-sn-glycero-1-phosphoryl-3'-sn-glycerol 1'-sulphate (DPhPGS), 2,3-di-O-phytanyl-sn-glycero-1-phosphoryl-3'-sn-glycerol (DPhPG) and 2,3-di-O-phytanyl-1-O-[beta-D-Galp-3-sulphate-(1----6)-alpha-D- Manp-(1----2)-alpha-D-Glcp]-sn-glycerol (DPhGLS). When examined by freeze-fracture electron microscopy, only the complexes containing 2,3-di-O-phytanyl-sn-glycero-1-phosphoryl-3'-sn-glycerol- 1'-phosphate or 2,3-di-O-phytanyl-sn-glycero-1-phosphoryl-3'-sn-glycerol-1'-sulphate, at high protein density (less than 1:50, bacteriorhodopsin/phospholipid, molar ratio) and to which 4 M NaCl had been added, showed well defined 2D hexagonal arrays of bacteriorhodopsin trimers similar to those observed in the purple membrane of H. halobium.


Journal article


Biochim Biophys Acta

Publication Date





21 - 30


Bacteriorhodopsins, Carbohydrate Sequence, Cell Membrane, Dimyristoylphosphatidylcholine, Electrochemistry, Freeze Fracturing, Halobacterium salinarum, Membrane Lipids, Microscopy, Electron, Molecular Sequence Data