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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Entropic effects enable life at extreme temperatures.

  • Author(s): Kim, Young Hun
  • Leriche, Geoffray
  • Diraviyam, Karthik
  • Koyanagi, Takaoki
  • Gao, Kaifu
  • Onofrei, David
  • Patterson, Joseph
  • Guha, Anirvan
  • Gianneschi, Nathan
  • Holland, Gregory P
  • Gilson, Michael K
  • Mayer, Michael
  • Sept, David
  • Yang, Jerry
  • et al.

Maintaining membrane integrity is a challenge at extreme temperatures. Biochemical synthesis of membrane-spanning lipids is one adaptation that organisms such as thermophilic archaea have evolved to meet this challenge and preserve vital cellular function at high temperatures. The molecular-level details of how these tethered lipids affect membrane dynamics and function, however, remain unclear. Using synthetic monolayer-forming lipids with transmembrane tethers, here, we reveal that lipid tethering makes membrane permeation an entropically controlled process that helps to limit membrane leakage at elevated temperatures relative to bilayer-forming lipid membranes. All-atom molecular dynamics simulations support a view that permeation through membranes made of tethered lipids reduces the torsional entropy of the lipids and leads to tighter lipid packing, providing a molecular interpretation for the increased transition-state entropy of leakage.

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