A derivative of the integral membranes protein, cytochrome b5, has been prepared in which the native heme group has been replaced by the structurally similar rhodium(III)-protoporphyrin IX. This metalloporphyrin has a finite triplet yield with a single exponential decay time of 22 microsecond in water. After insertion of the metalloporphyrin into the protein, its triplet-state decay becomes strongly nonexponential with at least three equal amplitude components with time constants varying over a range of 100. The derivatized protein has been incorporated into unilamellar liposomes prepared from dimyristoyllecithin, and the rotational diffusion of the protein in the lipid bilayer has been studied at temperatures above and below the lipid phase transition temperature via triplet absorbance anisotropy decay. The anisotropy decay curves are biphasic both above and below the lipid phase transition. The rotational diffusion constant is found to be 2.4 X 10(5) s-1 at 35 degrees C, and 1.1 X 10(4) s-1 at 10 degrees C, both being calculated from the fast decay component. The ratio of the limiting anisotropy to the initial anisotropy is 0.6 at both temperatures. This implies a cone of restricted motion of 34 degrees for the protein in the bilayer.
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