Archaeal phospholipids: Structural properties and biosynthesis

Antonella Caforio, Arnold J M Driessen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

29 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Phospholipids are major components of the cellular membranes present in all living organisms. They typically form a lipid bilayer that embroiders the cell or cellular organelles, constitute a barrier for ions and small solutes and form a matrix that supports the function of membrane proteins. The chemical composition of the membrane phospholipids present in the two prokaryotic domains Archaea and Bacteria are vastly different. Archaeal lipids are composed of highly-methylated isoprenoid chains that are ether-linked to a glycerol-1-phosphate backbone while bacterial phospholipids consist of straight fatty acids bound by ester bonds to the enantiomeric glycerol-3-phosphate backbone. The chemical structure of the archaeal lipids and their compositional diversity ensures the required stability at extreme environmental conditions as many archaea thrive at such conditions including high or low temperature, high salinity and extreme acidic or alkaline pH values. However, not all archaea are extremophiles, and the presence of ether-linked phospholipids is a phylogenetic marker that distinguishes Archaea from other life forms. During the past decade, our understanding of the biosynthesis of archaeal lipids has progressed resulting in the characterization of the main biosynthetic steps of the pathway including the reconstitution of lipid biosynthesis in vitro. Here we describe the chemical and physical properties of archaeal lipids and membranes derived thereof, summarize the existing knowledge about the enzymology of the archaeal lipid biosynthetic pathway and discuss evolutionary theories associated with the "Lipid Divide" that resulted in the differentiation of bacterial and archaeal organisms. This article is part of a Special Issue entitled: Bacterial Lipids edited by Russell E. Bishop.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1325-1339
Number of pages15
JournalBiochimica et Biophysica Acta - Molecular and Cell Biology of Lipids
Volume1862
Issue number11
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Nov-2017

Keywords

  • Archaeal lipids
  • lipid chemical structures
  • membrane properties
  • biosynthesis
  • lipid divide
  • SN-GLYCEROL-1-PHOSPHATE DEHYDROGENASE
  • ESCHERICHIA-COLI
  • ARCHAEBACTERIUM SULFOLOBUS-ACIDOCALDARIUS
  • GERANYLGERANYL-DIPHOSPHATE SYNTHASE
  • TETRAETHER LIPID-MEMBRANES
  • CHAIN-LENGTH DETERMINATION
  • ETHER POLAR LIPIDS
  • THERMOACIDOPHILIC ARCHAEON
  • THERMOPLASMA-ACIDOPHILUM
  • PHOSPHATE SYNTHASE

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