Fast-tumbling bicelles constructed from native Escherichia coli lipids

Biochim Biophys Acta. 2016 Sep;1858(9):2097-2105. doi: 10.1016/j.bbamem.2016.06.008. Epub 2016 Jun 15.


Solution-state NMR requires small membrane mimetic systems to allow for acquiring high-resolution data. At the same time these mimetics should faithfully mimic biological membranes. Here we characterized two novel fast-tumbling bicelle systems with lipids from two Escherichia coli strains. While strain 1 (AD93WT) contains a characteristic E. coli lipid composition, strain 2 (AD93-PE) is not capable of synthesizing the most abundant lipid in E. coli, phosphatidylethanolamine. The lipid and acyl chain compositions were characterized by (31)P and (13)C NMR. Depending on growth temperature and phase, the lipid composition varies substantially, which means that the bicelle composition can be tuned by using lipids from cells grown at different temperatures and growth phases. The hydrodynamic radii of the bicelles were determined from translational diffusion coefficients and NMR spin relaxation was measured to investigate lipid properties in the bicelles. We find that the lipid dynamics are unaffected by variations in lipid composition, suggesting that the bilayer is in a fluid phase under all conditions investigated here. Backbone glycerol carbons are the most rigid positions in all lipids, while head-group carbons and the first carbons of the acyl chain are somewhat more flexible. The flexibility increases down the acyl chain to almost unrestricted motion at its end. Carbons in double bonds and cyclopropane moieties are substantially restricted in their motional freedom. The bicelle systems characterized here are thus found to faithfully mimic E. coli inner membranes and are therefore useful for membrane interaction studies of proteins with E. coli inner membranes by solution-state NMR.

Keywords: Bicelle; Diffusion; Dynamics; Inner membrane; Lipid composition; Model-free approach; Native lipids.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Escherichia coli / chemistry*
  • Membrane Lipids / chemistry*
  • Micelles*


  • Membrane Lipids
  • Micelles