We have measured the lateral diffusion coefficient (D), of active dansyl-labeled gramicidin C (DGC), using the technique of fluorescence photobleaching recovery, under conditions in which the cylindrical dimer channel of DGC predominates. In pure, hydrated, dimyristoylphosphatidylcholine (DMPC) multibilayers (MBL), D decreases from 6 X 10(-8) cm2/s at 40 degrees C to 3 X 10(-8) cm2/s at 25 degrees C, and drops 100-fold at 23 degrees C, the phase transition temperature (Tm) of DMPC. Above Tm, addition of cholesterol decreases D; a threefold stepwise drop occurs between 10 and 20 mol %. Below Tm, increasing cholesterol increases D; a 10-fold increase occurs between 10 and 20 mol % at 21 degrees C, between 20 and 25 mol % at 15 degrees C, and between 25 and 30 mol % at 5 degrees C. In egg phosphatidylcholine (EPC) MBL, D decreases linearly from 5 X 10(-8) cm2/s at 35 degrees C to 2 X 10(-8) cm2/s at 5 degrees C; addition of equimolar cholesterol reduces D by a factor of 2. Thus this transmembrane polypeptide at low membrane concentrations diffuses quite like a lipid molecule. Its diffusivity in lipid mixtures appears to reflect predicted changes of lateral composition. Increasing gramicidin C (GC) in DMPC/GC MBL broadened the phase transition, and the diffusion coefficient of the lipid probe N-4-nitrobenzo-2-diazole phosphatidylethanolamine (NBD-PE) at 30 degrees C decreases from 8 X 10(-8) cm2/s below 5 mol % GC to 2 X 10(-8) cm2/s at 14 mol % GC; D for DGC similarly decreases from 4 X 10(-8) cm2/s at 2 mol % GC to 1.4 X 10(-8) cm2/s at 14 mol % GC. Hence, above Tm, high concentrations of this polypeptide restrict the lateral mobility of membrane components.
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