Lipid fluidity directly modulates the overall protein rotational mobility of the Ca-ATPase in sarcoplasmic reticulum

T. C. Squier, D. J. Bigelow, David D Thomas

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We have developed a quantitative and relatively model-independent measure of lipid fluidity using EPR and have applied this method to compare the temperature dependence of lipid hydrocarbon chain fluidity, overall protein rotational mobility, and the calcium-dependent enzymatic activity of the Ca-ATPase in sarcoplasmic reticulum. We define membrane lipid fluidity to be T/η, where η is the viscosity of a long chain hydrocarbon reference solvent in which a fatty acid spin label gives the same EPR spectrum (quantitated by the order parameter S) as observed for the same probe in the membrane. This measure is independent of the reference solvent used as long as the spectral line shapes in the membrane and the solvent match precisely, indicating that the same type of anisotropic probe motion occurs in the two systems. We argue that this empirical measurement of fluidity, defined in analogy to the macroscopic fluidity (T/η) of a bulk solvent, should be more directly related to protein rotational mobility (and thus to protein function) than are more conventional measures of fluidity, such as the rate or amplitude of rotational motion of the lipid hydrocarbon chains themselves. This new definition thus offers a fluidity measure that is more directly relevant to the protein's behavior. The direct relationship between this measure of membrane fluidity and protein rotational mobility is supported by measurements in sarcoplasmic reticulum. The overall rotational motion of the spin-labeled Ca-ATPase protein was measured by saturation-transfer EPR. The Arrhenius activation energy for protein rotational mobility (11-12 kcal/mol/degree) agrees well with the activation energy for lipid fluidity, if defined as in this study, but not if more conventional definitions of lipid fluidity are used. This agreement, which extends over the entire temperature range from 0 to 40°C, suggests that protein mobility depends directly on lipid fluidity in this system, as predicted from hydrodynamic theory. The same activation energy is observed for the calcium-dependent ATPase activity under physiological conditions, suggesting that protein rotational mobility (dependent on lipid fluidity) is involved in the rate-limiting step of active calcium transport.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)9178-9186
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number19
StatePublished - 1988


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