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Viscous control of cellular respiration by membrane lipid composition

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Science  07 Dec 2018:
Vol. 362, Issue 6419, pp. 1186-1189
DOI: 10.1126/science.aat7925

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How membrane viscosity affects respiration

In bacteria, energy production by the electron transport chain occurs at cell membranes and can be influenced by the lipid composition of the membrane. Budin et al. used genetic engineering to influence the concentration of unsaturated branched-chain fatty acids and thus control membrane viscosity (see the Perspective by Schon). Experimental measurements and mathematical modeling indicated that rates of respiratory metabolism and rates of cell growth were dependent on membrane viscosity and its effects on diffusion. Experiments on yeast mitochondria also showed similar effects. Maintaining efficient respiration may thus place evolutionary constraints on cellular lipid composition.

Science, this issue p. 1186; see also p. 1114