Phospholipid species containing long and very long polyenoic fatty acids remain with rhodopsin after hexane extraction of photoreceptor membranes

Biochemistry. 1988 Feb 23;27(4):1229-39. doi: 10.1021/bi00404a024.


About one-fourth the phosphatidylcholines (PCs) from bovine disk photoreceptor membranes contain very long chain (24-36 carbons) polyunsaturated (4, 5, and 6 double bonds) fatty acids of the n-3 and n-6 series (VLCPUFA). Such fatty acids, exclusively occurring in dipolyunsaturated species, are esterified to the sn-1 position of their glycerol backbone, docosahexaenoate being the major fatty acid at sn-2. Chromatographically, such PCs display a weakly polar character relative to other species, ascribable to their exceedingly large number of carbons. After hexane extraction of lyophilized disks, PC is the major component of the fraction of lipids that remains associated with rhodopsin, followed by phosphatidylserine, while a large proportion of the phosphatidylethanolamine is removed. The fatty acid composition of the hexane-removable and protein-bound lipid fractions markedly differs, the latter being enriched in lipid species containing long-chain and very long chain polyenes. This is observed for all lipid classes except free fatty acids. VLCPUFA-containing PCs are the most highly concentrated species in the rhodopsin-associated lipid fraction. The very long chain polyenes these PCs have at sn-1 may account for their resistance to being separated from the protein. It is hypothesized that their unusually long polyenoic fatty acids could be well suited to partially surround alpha-helical segments of rhodopsin.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cattle
  • Cell Membrane / metabolism
  • Chromatography, Gas
  • Chromatography, Thin Layer
  • Fatty Acids, Unsaturated / analysis*
  • Hexanes
  • Membrane Lipids / isolation & purification
  • Membrane Lipids / metabolism*
  • Phospholipids / isolation & purification
  • Phospholipids / metabolism*
  • Photoreceptor Cells / metabolism*
  • Retinal Pigments / metabolism*
  • Rhodopsin / isolation & purification
  • Rhodopsin / metabolism*
  • Rod Cell Outer Segment / metabolism*


  • Fatty Acids, Unsaturated
  • Hexanes
  • Membrane Lipids
  • Phospholipids
  • Retinal Pigments
  • Rhodopsin