Neutron Diffraction Studies of Bacteriorhodopsin Structure

  • J. Trewhella
  • E. Gogol
  • G. Zaccai
  • D. M. Engelman
Part of the Basic Life Sciences book series (BLSC, volume 27)


Halobacterium halobium is a microorganism that can survive only in solutions containing more than 12% salt (1). When oxygen supplies become limited, the organism synthesizes a specialized region in the plasma membrane that converts visible light energy into an electrochemical gradient by pumping protons across the plasma membrane out of the cell (2). This specialized membrane can be isolated in a stable form at low ionic strength (3,4) and is known as the purple membrane by virtue of its strong pigmentation. Purple membrane is 75% protein and only 25% lipid. The single protein species whose retinal prosthetic group is responsible for the purple color is called bacteriorhodopsin, by analogy with the vertebrate visual pigments. As shown by x-ray diffraction studies, bacteriorhodopsin exists in a hexagonal lattice in the plane of the membrane bilayer, and the packing arrangement is described by the two-dimensional crystallographic space group p3 (5).


Assignment Model Purple Membrane Deuterium Label Mosaic Spread Halobacterium Halobium 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1984

Authors and Affiliations

  • J. Trewhella
    • 1
  • E. Gogol
    • 1
  • G. Zaccai
    • 1
    • 2
  • D. M. Engelman
    • 1
  1. 1.Dept. of Molecular Biophysics and BiochemistryYale UniversityNew HavenUSA
  2. 2.Institut Laue-LangevinGrenobleFrance

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