Research article

Aerobic sn-glycerol-3-phosphate dehydrogenase from Escherichia coli binds to the cytoplasmic membrane through an amphipathic α-helix

Antje-Christine WALZ, Rudy A. DEMEL, Ben de KRUIJFF, Rupert MUTZEL


sn-Glycerol-3-phosphate dehydrogenase (GlpD) from Escherichia coli is a peripheral membrane enzyme involved in respiratory electron transfer. For it to display its enzymic activity, binding to the inner membrane is required. The way the enzyme interacts with the membrane and how this controls activity has not been elucidated. In the present study we provide evidence for direct protein—lipid interaction. Using the monolayer technique, we observed insertion of GlpD into lipid monolayers with a clear preference for anionic phospholipids. GlpD variants with point mutations in their predicted amphipathic helices showed a decreased ability to penetrate anionic phospholipid monolayers. From these data we propose that membrane binding of GlpD occurs by insertion of an amphipathic helix into the acyl-chain region of lipids mediated by negatively charged phospholipids.

  • binding sites
  • enzyme activation
  • glycerol 3-phosphate
  • membrane insertion
  • protein–lipid interaction


  • Abbreviations used: BCA, bicinchoninic acid; CL, cardiolipin; DOPC, dioleoyl-sn-glycero-3-phosphocholine; DOPE, dioleoyl-sn-glycero-3-phosphoethanolamine; DOPG, dioleoyl-sn-glycero-3-phosphoglycerol; GlpD, sn-glycerol-3-phosphate dehydrogenase; G3P, glycerol 3-phosphate; LUVETs, large unilamellar vesicles; MTT, 3-(4,5-dimethylthiazolyl-2-)-2,5-diphenyltetrazolium bromide; Ni2+-NTA, nickel-nitriloacetate; PC, phosphatidylcholine; PE, phosphatidylethanolamine; PG, phosphatidylglycerol; PMS, phenazine methosulphate; R359E, Arg359→Glu etc.; TLE, total phospholipid extract from Escherichia coli.