Viscous control of cellular respiration by membrane lipid composition

Lipid composition determines the physical properties of biological membranes and can vary substantially between and within organisms. We describe a specific role for the viscosity of energy-transducing membranes in cellular respiration. Engineering of fatty acid biosynthesis in Escherichia coli allowed us to titrate inner membrane viscosity across a 10-fold range by controlling the abundance of unsaturated or branched lipids.

These fluidizing lipids tightly controlled respiratory metabolism, an effect that can be explained with a quantitative model of the Electron Transport Chain (ETC) that features diffusion-coupled reactions between enzymes and electron carriers (quinones). Lipid…
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Pavlos Papadopoulos

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