May 1, 1969

Calorimetric evidence for the liquid-crystalline state of lipids in a biomembrane

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
J M SteimR L Rader


Both membranes of Mycoplasma laidlawii and water dispersions of protein-free membrane lipids exhibit thermal phase transitions that can be detected by differential scanning calorimetry. The transition temperatures are lowered by increased unsaturation in the fatty acid residues, but in each case they are the same for membranes and lipids. The transitions resemble those observed for synthetic lipids in the lamellar phase in water, which arise from melting of the hydrocarbon chains within the phospholipid bilayers. Such melts are cooperative phenomena and would be greatly perturbed by apolar binding to protein. Thus the identity of membrane and lipid transition temperatures suggests that in the membranes, as in water, the lipids are in the bilayer conformation in which the hydrocarbon chains associate with each other rather than with proteins. Observations of morphological changes indicate that osmotic imbalance occurs when the membrane transition temperature exceeds the growth temperature, and that for transport processes to function properly the hydrocarbon chains must be in a liquid-like state.

Mentioned in this Paper

Tissue Membrane
Mycoplasma Infections
Mycoplasma putrefaciens

About this Paper

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