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The mechanism by which bacteriorhodopsin (BR), the light-driven proton pump from the purple membrane (PM) of Halobacterium halobium, arranges in a 2D hexagonal array has been studied by reconstitution of BR in complexes of two types of bilayer made either with PM-derived lipids or with PM lipids and 1,2-dimyristoyl-sn-glycero-3-phosphocholine (DMPC). The unit cell dimensions of the 2D protein crystals, determined by correlation averaging analysis of freeze-fracture electron micrographs, were compared with the lattice constant of the PM. In complexes made with delipidated BR and with the polar lipids extracted from H. halobium cells (HHPL), BR trimers are arranged in a hexagonal lattice with the same lattice constant of 5.9 ± 0.2 nm as found in the PM. In BR-containing complexes made with PM-derived lipids and DMPC at several protein:lipid mole ratios, BR trimers are also arranged in a hexagonal lattice, but with a unit cell dimension of 9.2 ± 0.2 nm, which is about one-third larger compared to that measured in PM (Michel et al., 1980). In a subclass of this type of complexes, orthogonal BR arrays were observed with a lattice constant of 5.9 · 9.9 ± 0.2 nm. It appears that insertion of DMPC into the BR/PM-derived lipid complexes increases the center-to-center distances in both array types by a discrete amount. © 1993 Academic Press, Inc.

Original publication




Journal article


Journal of Structural Biology

Publication Date





196 - 204