Abstract Lipid composition of the membrane and rhodopsin packing density strongly modulate the early steps of the visual response of photoreceptor membranes. In this study, lipid-order and bovine rhodopsin function in proteoliposomes composed of the sn-1 chain perdeuterated lipids 14:0d27-14:1-PC, 16:0d31-16:1-PC, 18:0d35-18:1-PC, or 20:0d39-20:1-PC at rhodopsin/lipid molar ratios from 1:70 to 1:1000 (mol/mol) were investigated. Clear evidence for matching of hydrophobic regions on rhodopsin transmembrane helices and hydrophobic thickness of lipid bilayers was observed from 2H nuclear magnetic resonance order parameter measurements at low rhodopsin concentrations. Thin bilayers stretched to match the length of transmembrane helices observed as increase of sn-1 chain order, while thicker bilayers were compressed near the protein. A quantitative analysis of lipid-order parameter changes suggested that the protein adjusts its conformation to bilayer hydrophobic thickness as well, which confirmed our earlier circular-dichroism measurements. Changes in lipid order parameters upon rhodopsin incorporation vanished for bilayers with a hydrophobic thickness of 27 ± 1 Å, suggesting that this is the bilayer thickness at which rhodopsin packs in bilayers at the lowest membrane perturbation. The lipid-order parameter studies also indicated that a hydrophobic mismatch between rhodopsin and lipids triggers rhodopsin oligomerization with increasing rhodopsin concentrations. Both hydrophobic mismatch and rhodopsin oligomerization result in substantial shifts of the equilibrium between the photointermediates metarhodopsin I and metarhodopsin II; increasing bilayer thickness favors formation of metarhodopsin II while oligomerization favors metarhodopsin I. The results highlight the importance of hydrophobic matching for rhodopsin structure, oligomerization, and function.
Soubias, O., Teague, W. E., Hines, K. G., & Gawrisch, K. (2015). Rhodopsin/lipid hydrophobic matching - Rhodopsin oligomerization and function. Biophysical Journal, 108(5), 1125–1132. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bpj.2015.01.006