Effects of urea and trimethylamineN-oxide on fluidity of liposomes and membranes of an elasmobranch
American Journal of Physiology. Regulatory Integrative and Comparative Physiology
Effects of urea and trimethylamine N-oxide on fluidity of liposomes and membranes of an elasmobranch. Am. J. Physiol. 276 (Regulatory Integrative Comp. Physiol. 45): R397-R406, 1999.-The effects on membrane fluidity of two solutes of biological importance in elasmobranch fishes, urea and trimethylamine oxide (TMAO), were determined using elasmobranch red blood cell plasma membranes and artificial liposomes. Fluorescence polarizations of three probes with differing sites of insertion
... sertion (1,6-diphenylhexatriene, cisparinaric acid, and trans-parinaric acid) were used to study the effects of physiological levels of urea (400 mM) and TMAO (200 mM) separately and together in a 2:1 urea:TMAO ratio (400 mM:200 mM). In the elasmobranch erythrocyte membrane, there was a trend toward an increase in the order of the gel-phase domains when treated with urea, although this was not statistically significant. This effect was counteracted by the presence of TMAO. To determine if the organic solutes were acting directly on the membrane lipids or on the integral proteins, phase-transition profiles of protein-free dipalmitoyl phosphatidylcholine liposomes were determined. These profiles showed that urea again increased the order of the gel-phase domains of the bilayer; however, this effect was not counteracted by the presence of TMAO. We suggest that the increased order in the gel-phase domains may be an indirect effect of a decrease in the order of the fluid-phase domains. This increase in fluidity may be due either to a disruptive effect of urea on the hydrophobic core of the membrane or to indirect effects mediated by changes in the integral membrane proteins. This study is the first to demonstrate that urea and TMAO may act as counteracting solutes in the elasmobranch erythrocyte membrane and that the counteraction appears to be at the level of the integral proteins rather than the membrane lipids.