Functional significance of the lipid-protein interface in photosynthetic membranes

T. Páli, G. Garab, L. I. Horváth, Z. Kóta

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

44 Citations (Scopus)


The functional significance of the lipid-protein interface in photosynthetic membranes, mainly in thylakoids, is reviewed with emphasis on membrane structure and dynamics. The lipid-protein interface is identified primarily by the restricted molecular dynamics of its lipids as compared with the dynamics in the bulk lipid phase of the membrane. In a broad sense, lipid-protein interfaces comprise solvation shell lipids that are weakly associated with the hydrophobic surface of transmembrane proteins but also include lipids that are strongly and specifically bound to membrane proteins or protein assemblies. The relation between protein-associated lipids and the overall fluidity of the thylakoid membrane is discussed. Spin label electron paramagnetic resonance spectroscopy has been identified as the technique of choice to characterize the protein solvation shell in its highly dynamic nature; biochemical and direct structural methods have revealed an increasing number of protein-bound lipids. The structural and functional roles of these protein-bound lipids are mustered, but in most cases they remain to be determined. As suggested by recent data, the interaction of the non-bilayer-forming lipid, monogalactosyldyacilglycerol (MGDG), with the main light-harvesting chlorophyll a/b-binding protein complexes of photosystem-II (LHCII), the most abundant lipid and membrane protein components on earth, play multiple structural and functional roles in developing and mature thylakoid membranes. A brief outlook to future directions concludes this review.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1591-1606
Number of pages16
JournalCellular and Molecular Life Sciences
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - Aug 1 2003



  • Greening
  • Light-harvesting chlorophyll a/b-binding proteins
  • Lipid-protein interaction
  • Membrane dynamics
  • Nonbilayer lipids
  • Photosynthesis
  • Thermally induced changes
  • Thylakoid membranes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Medicine
  • Molecular Biology
  • Pharmacology
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
  • Cell Biology

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