Heterologous expression is a landmark technique for studying a protein itself or its effect on the expression host, in which membrane-embedded proteins are a common choice. Yet, the impact of inserting a foreign protein to the lipid environment of host membranes, has never been addressed. Here we demonstrated that heterologous expression of the Artemia franciscana adenine nucleotide translocase (ANT) in yeasts altered lipidomic composition of their inner mitochondrial membranes. Along with this, activities of complex II, IV and ATP synthase, all membrane-embedded components, were significantly decreased while their expression levels remained unaffected. Although the results represent an individual case of expressing a crustacean protein in yeast inner mitochondrial membranes, it cannot be excluded that host lipidome alterations is a more widespread epiphenomenon, potentially biasing heterologous expression experiments. Finally, our results raise the possibility that not only lipids modulate protein function, but also membrane-embedded proteins modulate lipid composition, thus revealing a reciprocal mode of regulation for these two biomolecular entities.
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