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Differential destabilization of membranes by tryptophan and phenylalanine during freezing: the roles of lipid composition and membrane fusion

Biochimica et Biophysica Acta (BBA) - Biomembranes
Publication Date
DOI: 10.1016/s0005-2736(01)00462-x
  • Aromatic Amino Acid
  • Freezing
  • Galactolipid
  • Liposome
  • Nonbilayer Lipid
  • Thylakoid Membrane
  • Engineering


Abstract The stability of cellular membranes during dehydration can be strongly influenced by the partitioning of amphiphilic solutes from the aqueous phase into the membranes. The effects of partitioning on membrane stability depend in a complex manner on the structural properties of the amphiphiles and on membrane lipid composition. Here, we have investigated the effects of the amphiphilic aromatic amino acids Trp and Phe on membrane stability during freezing. Both amino acids were cryotoxic to isolated chloroplast thylakoid membranes and to large unilamellar liposomes, but Trp had a much stronger effect than Phe. In liposomes, both amino acids induced solute leakage and membrane fusion during freezing. The presence of the chloroplast galactolipids monogalactosyldiacylglycerol or digalactosyldiacylglycerol in egg phosphatidylcholine (EPC) membranes reduced leakage from liposomes during freezing in the presence of up to 5 mM Trp, as compared to membranes composed of pure EPC. The presence of the nonbilayer-forming lipid phosphatidylethanolamine increased leakage. Membrane fusion followed a similar trend, but was dramatically reduced when the anthracycline antibiotic daunomycin was incorporated into the membranes. Daunomycin has been shown to stabilize the bilayer phase of membranes in the presence of nonbilayer lipids and was therefore expected to reduce fusion. Surprisingly, this had only a small influence on leakage. Collectively, these data indicate that Trp and Phe induce solute leakage from liposomes during freezing by a mechanism that is largely independent of fusion events.

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