Physical Properties of Membrane Lipids Isolated from a Thermophilic Eubacterium (Thermus sp.)

  • A. Prado
  • M. S. da Costa
  • J. Laynez
  • V. M. C. Madeira
Part of the Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology book series (AEMB, volume 238)


Membranes from a thermophilic eubacterium, Thermus sp. strain SPS 11, isolated from thermal springs of Sao Pedro do Sul spa (Portugal), are characterized for having two main polar lipids, a glycolipid (GL) with four monosaccharide residues, which at 73°C accounts for 95% of the carbohydrate in the total lipid extracts, and a glycophospholipid (PL) which at 73°C accounts for about 90% of the lipid phosphorous. A complex mixture of carotenoids (CA) makes up 11% by weight of the total membrane lipids. The branched fatty acyl chains (iso C15 and iso C17) comprise about 90% of the alifatic moieties of the polar lipids of this bacterium. Moreover, when the growth temperature increases from 50 to 73°C there is an increase of the iso C17/iso C15 ratio and of the GL/PL ratio. We have studied the biophysical properties of bilayers (as multilamellar liposomes) prepared from GL, PL and the mixtures of PL, GL and CA in proportions found in the membranes of bacteria growing at their optimal growth temperature, using polarization of DPH fluorescence, low and wide-angle X-ray diffraction and differential scanning calorimetry. The three techniques agree in showing the presence of a broad phase transition from a gel (Lß) phase to a liquid-crystal (L∝) phase between 8 and 30°C, for all the lipid dispersions studied except for the GL. Although all the dispersions studied form a bilayer structure at all the temperatures studied, only the mixture of the three components (PL, GL + CA) avoids the phase separation present in the mixtures of PL +CA at temperatures lower than 30°C and PL + GL at temperatures lower than 55°C. Our results are compared with those of Pinheiro et al. (1978) obtained with the 31P-NMR technique and applied to the study of the same samples.


Fluorescence Polarization Interlamellar Spacing Multilamellar Liposome Lipid Dispersion Thermotropic Behaviour 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1988

Authors and Affiliations

  • A. Prado
    • 1
  • M. S. da Costa
    • 2
  • J. Laynez
    • 3
  • V. M. C. Madeira
    • 2
  1. 1.Departamento de Bioquímica, Facultad de CienciasUniversidad del País vascoSpain
  2. 2.Departamento de ZoologiaUniversidade de CoimbraPortugal
  3. 3.Instituto de Química-Física “Rocasolano”MadridSpain

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