Extensive segregation of acidic phospholipids in membranes induced by protein kinase C and related proteins

Gary L. Nelsestuen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

93 Scopus citations


Protein kinase C and two other proteins with molecular masses of 64 and 32 kDa, purified from bovine brain, constitute a type of protein that binds a large number of calcium ions in a phospholipid-dependent manner. This study suggested that these proteins also induced extensive clustering of acidic phospholipids in the membranes. Clustering of acidic phospholipids was detected by the self-quenching of a fluorescence probe that was attached to acidic phospholipids (phosphatidic acid or phosphatidylglycerol). Addition of these proteins to phospholipid vesicles containing 15% fluorescently labeled phosphatidic acid dispersed in neutral phosphatidylcholine resulted in extensive, rapid, and calcium-dependent quenching of the fluorescence signal. Fluorescence-quenching requirements coincided with protein-membrane binding characteristics. As expected, the addition of these proteins to phospholipid vesicles containing fluorescent phospholipids dispersed with large excess of acidic phospholipids produced only small fluorescence changes. In addition, association of these proteins with vesicles composed of 100% fluorescent phospholipids resulted in no fluorescence quenching. Protein binding to vesicles containing 5-50% fluorescent phospholipid showed different levels of fluorescence quenching that closely resemble the behavior expected for extensive segregation of the acidic phospholipids in the outer layer of the vesicles. Thus, the fluorescence quenching appeared to result from self-quenching of the fluorophores that become clustered upon protein-membrane binding. These results were consistent with protein-membrane binding that was maintained by calcium bridges between the proteins and acidic phospholipids in the membrane. Since each protein bound eight or more calcium ions in the presence of phospholipid, they may each induce clustering of a related number of acidic phospholipids. This property, which was very striking for this class of proteins, was barely detectable for another class of proteins that display calcium-dependent binding to membranes containing acidic phospholipids. The membrane-altering behavior of protein kinase C and other related proteins may contribute unique features to the total calcium response of the cell.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)7961-7969
Number of pages9
Issue number32
StatePublished - 1991


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