Chapter 8 : Membrane Adaptations of (Hyper)Thermophiles to High Temperatures

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This chapter discusses the recent insights into the mechanisms of membrane adaptation of and to high temperatures, with an emphasis on the structure and function of the lipids that constitute the membrane of hyperthermophiles. The cytoplasmic membrane plays an essential role in many metabolic processes, energy transduction, and signaling. Membranes of bacteria mainly contain phospholipids with a core structure consisting of a glycerol, a three-carbon alcohol, to which two fatty acid acyl chains are linked via ester bonds. The archaeal membrane lipids differ in composition from those of bacteria in three important ways. First, the lipid acyl chains are joined to a glycerol backbone by ether rather than ester linkages. High temperatures impose a burden on the cellular metabolism and require a higher stability of enzymes and other macromolecules. Second, the acyl chains are branched rather than linear. Finally, the stereochemistry of the central glycerol is inverted as compared with the ester-based phospholipids. Ether links are far more resistant to oxidation and high temperatures than ester links. Consequently, liposomes prepared from archaeal tetraether lipids are more thermostable. respond to changes in ambient temperature through adaptations of the lipid composition of their cytoplasmic membranes. The thermoresistance and tolerance of the membranes of hyperthermophiles is likely a result of an interplay between lipids and proteins.

Citation: Driessen A, Albers S. 2007. Membrane Adaptations of (Hyper)Thermophiles to High Temperatures, p 104-116. In Gerday C, Glansdorff N (ed), Physiology and Biochemistry of Extremophiles. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555815813.ch8
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Image of Figure 1.
Figure 1.

Schematic representation of the magnitude and composition of the proton motive force (PMF) and intracellular pH as a function of the extracellular pH for acido-, neutro-, and alkaliphilic bacteria. The compositions of the PMF, i.e., the transmembrane electrical potential (Δψ) and pH gradient (–ΔpH), are indicated separately. The scheme is a mosaic obtained from bioenergetic studies of various bacteria, but depending on the membrane proton permeability, the exact magnitude of the various components of the PMF may be different for individual species.

Citation: Driessen A, Albers S. 2007. Membrane Adaptations of (Hyper)Thermophiles to High Temperatures, p 104-116. In Gerday C, Glansdorff N (ed), Physiology and Biochemistry of Extremophiles. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555815813.ch8
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Image of Figure 2.
Figure 2.

Model of a phospholipid membrane in the gel (A) and fluid (B) phase showing the high mobility of the acyl chains in the fluid membrane phase. The picture represents a slab image of 1-palmitoyl 2-oleoyl phosphatidyl choline bilayers that were obtained by molecular dynamics simulations as described by . The picture was generated with PyMOL (http://pymol.sourceforge.net/).

Citation: Driessen A, Albers S. 2007. Membrane Adaptations of (Hyper)Thermophiles to High Temperatures, p 104-116. In Gerday C, Glansdorff N (ed), Physiology and Biochemistry of Extremophiles. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555815813.ch8
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Image of Figure 3.
Figure 3.

Core structures of phospholipids in bacteria and tetraether lipids in . (A) Diacylglycerol in bacteria; and the archaeal tetraether lipids; (B) caldarchaeol; (C) isocaldarchaeol; (D) calditoglycerocaldarchaeol; and (E) crenarchaeol.

Citation: Driessen A, Albers S. 2007. Membrane Adaptations of (Hyper)Thermophiles to High Temperatures, p 104-116. In Gerday C, Glansdorff N (ed), Physiology and Biochemistry of Extremophiles. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555815813.ch8
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Image of Figure 4.
Figure 4.

Freeze-fracture (A, C) and freeze-etch (B, D) replicas of and of lipid vesicles. Freeze-fracture of (A) and lipid (B). The tetraether lipid vesicles show no fracture face as they form monolayers that cannot be cut in the middle of the membrane. Freeze-etching of (C) and lipid (D), showing the surface of the vesicles. The arrow indicates the direction of shadowing. Bar = 200 nm. Taken from with permission.

Citation: Driessen A, Albers S. 2007. Membrane Adaptations of (Hyper)Thermophiles to High Temperatures, p 104-116. In Gerday C, Glansdorff N (ed), Physiology and Biochemistry of Extremophiles. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555815813.ch8
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Image of Figure 5.
Figure 5.

Schematic presentation of the proton permeabilities of membranes from and that live at different temperatures. Data were obtained by measuring the proton permeabilities of liposomes made of the lipids of the respective organisms at different temperatures. At the respective growth temperatures, the proton permeabilities fall within a narrow window (gray bar). The bacteria and have a permeability that is higher than that in the other organisms at their respective growth temperature. From and adapted, with permission.

Citation: Driessen A, Albers S. 2007. Membrane Adaptations of (Hyper)Thermophiles to High Temperatures, p 104-116. In Gerday C, Glansdorff N (ed), Physiology and Biochemistry of Extremophiles. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555815813.ch8
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