Thermal Stability of Membrane-Reconstituted Yeast Cytochrome c Oxidase

Paul E. Morin, Diana Diggs, Ernesto Freire

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

58 Scopus citations


The thermal dependence of the structural stability of membrane-reconstituted yeast cytochrome c oxidase has been studied by using different techniques including high-sensitivity differential scanning calorimetry, differential detergent solubility thermal gel analysis, and enzyme activity measurements. For these studies, the enzyme has been reconstituted into dimyristoylphosphatidylcholine (DMPC) and dielaidoylphosphatidylcholine (DEPC) vesicles using detergent dialysis. The phospholipid moiety affects the stability of the enzyme as judged by the dependence of the denaturation temperature on the lipid composition of the bilayer. The enzyme is more stable when reconstituted with the 18-carbon, unsaturated phospholipid (DEPC) than with the 14-carbon saturated phospholipid (DMPC). In addition, the shapes of the calorimetric transition profiles are different in the two lipid systems, indicating that not all of the subunits are affected equally by the lipid moiety. The overall enthalpy change for the enzyme denaturation is essentially the same for the two lipid reconstitutions (405 kcal/mol of protein for the DMPC and 425 kcal/mol for the DEPC-reconstituted enzyme). In both systems, the van't Hoff to calorimetric enthalpy ratios are less than 0.2, indicating that the unfolding of the enzyme cannot be represented as a two-state process. Differential detergent solubility experiments have allowed us to determine individual subunit thermal denaturation profiles. These experiments indicate that the major contributors to the main transition peak observed calorimetrically are subunits I and II and that the transition temperature of subunit III is the most affected by the phospholipid moiety. Experiments performed at different scanning rates indicate that the thermal denaturation of the enzyme is a kinetically controlled process characterized by activation energies on the order of 40 kcal/mol. These studies have allowed us to quantitatively model the thermal denaturation mechanism of the enzyme.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)781-788
Number of pages8
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jan 1 1990

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry


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