Publication Date



Emerging Topics in Life Sciences


The complex two-membrane organization of the envelope of Gram-negative bacteria imposes an unique biosynthetic and topological constraints that can affect translocation of lipids and proteins synthesized on the cytoplasm facing leaflet of the cytoplasmic (inner) membrane (IM), across the IM and between the IM and outer membrane (OM). Balanced growth of two membranes and continuous loss of phospholipids in the periplasmic leaflet of the IM as metabolic precursors for envelope components and for translocation to the OM requires a constant supply of phospholipids in the IM cytosolic leaflet. At present we have no explanation as to why the biogenic E. coli IM displays asymmetry. Lipid asymmetry is largely related to highly entropically disfavored, unequal headgroup and acyl group asymmetries which are usually actively maintained by active mechanisms. However, these mechanisms are largely unknown for bacteria. Alternatively, lipid asymmetry in biogenic IM could be metabolically controlled in order to maintain uniform bilayer growth and asymmetric transmembrane arrangement by balancing temporally the net rates of synthesis and flip-flop, inter IM and OM bidirectional flows and bilayer chemical and physical properties as spontaneous response. Does such flippase-less or 'lipid only", 'passive' mechanism of generation and maintenance of lipid asymmetry exists in the IM? The driving force for IM asymmetry can arise from the packing requirements imposed upon the bilayer system during cell division through disproportional distribution of two negatively curved phospholipids, phosphatidylethanolamine and cardiolipin, with consistent reciprocal tendency to increase and decrease lipid order in each membrane leaflet respectively.


Escherichia coli, Cell Membrane, Phospholipids, Gram-Negative Bacteria, Escherichia coli Proteins



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