Lipoprotein insertion into membranes of various complexity: Lipid sorting, interfacial adsorption and protein clustering

Academic Article


  • In a combined chemical-biological and biophysical approach we explored the membrane partitioning of the lipidated signaling proteins N-Ras and K-Ras4B into membrane systems of different complexity, ranging from one-component lipid bilayers and anionic binary and ternary heterogeneous membrane systems even up to partitioning studies on protein-free and protein-containing giant plasma membrane vesicles (GPMVs). To yield a pictorial view of the localization process, imaging using confocal laser scanning and atomic force microscopy was performed. The results reveal pronounced isoform-specific differences regarding the lateral distribution and formation of protein-rich membrane domains. Line tension is one of the key parameters controlling not only the size and dynamic properties of segregated lipid domains but also the partitioning process of N-Ras that acts as a lineactant. The formation of N-Ras protein clusters is even recorded for almost vanishing hydrophobic mismatch. Conversely, for K-Ras4B, selective localization and clustering are electrostatically mediated by its polybasic farnesylated C-terminus. The formation of K-Ras4B clusters is also observed for the multi-component GPMV membrane, i.e., it seems to be a general phenomenon, largely independent of the details of the membrane composition, including the anionic charge density of lipid headgroups. Our data indicate that unspecific and entropy-driven membrane-mediated interactions play a major role in the partitioning behavior, thus relaxing the need for a multitude of fine-tuned interactions. Such a scenario seems also to be reasonable recalling the high dynamic nature of cellular membranes. Finally, we note that even relatively simple models of heterogeneous membranes are able to reproduce many of the properties of much more complex biological membranes.
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Erwin N; Sperlich B; Garivet G; Waldmann H; Weise K; Winter R
  • Start Page

  • 8954
  • End Page

  • 8962
  • Volume

  • 18
  • Issue

  • 13