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EPR Studies on the Properties of Model Photoreceptor Membranes Made of Natural and Synthetic Lipids.

  • Duda, Mariusz1, 2
  • Kawula, Katarzyna1, 3
  • Pawlak, Anna1
  • Sarna, Tadeusz1
  • Wisniewska-Becker, Anna4
  • 1 Faculty of Biochemistry, Biophysics and Biotechnology, Jagiellonian University, Kraków, Poland. , (Poland)
  • 2 Malopolska Centre of Biotechnology, Jagiellonian University, Kraków, Poland. , (Poland)
  • 3 Faculty of Electrical Engineering, Automatics, Computer Science and Biomedical Engineering, AGH-University of Science and Technology, Kraków, Poland. , (Poland)
  • 4 Faculty of Biochemistry, Biophysics and Biotechnology, Jagiellonian University, Kraków, Poland. [email protected] , (Poland)
Published Article
Cell Biochemistry and Biophysics
Publication Date
Dec 01, 2017
DOI: 10.1007/s12013-017-0795-4
PMID: 28413858


The membranes of retina photoreceptors have unique lipid composition. They contain a high concentration of polyunsaturated docosahexaenoic acid, with six double bonds, and are enriched in phosphatidylethanolamines. Based on their phospholipid composition and cholesterol content, membranes of photoreceptors can be divided into three types: plasma membrane, young disks membranes, and old disks membranes. High amount of docosahexaenoic acid, abundant illumination, and high respiratory demands make these membranes sensitive to oxidative stress and lipid peroxidation. Human retinas are not easily available for research, therefore most research is done on bovine retinas. However, to follow, in a controlled manner, the changes in membrane properties caused by different factors it seems advisable to apply carefully prepared models of photoreceptor membranes. Using synthetic lipids we prepared liposome models of three types of photoreceptor membranes, and by means of electron paramagnetic resonance spectroscopy and spin labeling technique we compared polarity and fluidity of those model membranes with the properties of membranes consisting of natural lipids extracted from photoreceptor outer segments of bovine retinas. Additionally, we studied the effect of oxidation on the membrane properties in the presence and in the absence of zeaxanthin, which is an antioxidant naturally present in the human retina. The results show that there are significant differences in polarity and fluidity between all investigated membranes, which reflect differences in their lipid composition. The properties of the membranes made of natural photoreceptor outer segment lipids are most similar to the ones of the models of old disks membranes. Oxidation did not change the membrane properties significantly; however, a slight ordering effect was observed in liposomes made of natural photoreceptor outer segment lipids and in the model of old disks membranes. Zeaxanthin affected polarity and fluidity mostly in the model of old disks membranes. The results show that by careful selection and appropriate proportions of lipid mixtures, it is possible to obtain synthetic membranes of the properties similar to the natural ones.

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