Marvin Gohrbandt, 1 André Lipski, 2 James W Grimshaw, 3 Jessica A Buttress, 3 Zunera Baig, 3 Brigitte Herkenhoff, 1 Stefan Walter, 1 Rainer Kurre, 4 Gabriele Deckers‐Hebestreit,corresponding author 1 and Henrik Strahlcorresponding author 3


"1 Mikrobiologie, Fachbereich Biologie/Chemie, Universität Osnabrück, Osnabrück Germany,
2 Lebensmittelmikrobiologie und ‐hygiene, Institut für Ernährungs‐ und Lebensmittelwissenschaften, Rheinische Friedrich‐Wilhelms‐Universität Bonn, Bonn Germany,
3 Centre for Bacterial Cell Biology, Biosciences Institute, Faculty of Medical Sciences, Newcastle University, Newcastle upon Tyne UK,
4 Center of Cellular Nanoanalytics, Integrated Bioimaging Facility, Universität Osnabrück, Osnabrück Germany,
Gabriele Deckers‐Hebestreit, Email: [email protected]
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Corresponding author. Tel: +44 1912083240; E‐mail: [email protected]"


Cell Biology, Microbiology


"All living organisms adapt their membrane lipid composition in response to changes in their environment or diet. These conserved membrane‐adaptive processes have been studied extensively. However, key concepts of membrane biology linked to regulation of lipid composition including homeoviscous adaptation maintaining stable levels of membrane fluidity, and gel‐fluid phase separation resulting in domain formation, heavily rely upon in vitro studies with model membranes or lipid extracts. Using the bacterial model organisms Escherichia coli and Bacillus subtilis, we now show that inadequate in vivo membrane fluidity interferes with essential complex cellular processes including cytokinesis, envelope expansion, chromosome replication/segregation and maintenance of membrane potential. Furthermore, we demonstrate that very low membrane fluidity is indeed capable of triggering large‐scale lipid phase separation and protein segregation in intact, protein‐crowded membranes of living cells; a process that coincides with the minimal level of fluidity capable of supporting growth. Importantly, the in vivo lipid phase separation is not associated with a breakdown of the membrane diffusion barrier function, thus explaining why the phase separation process induced by low fluidity is biologically reversible.

Keywords: homeoviscous adaptation, lipid domains, lipid phase separation, membrane fluidity, protein partitioning
Subject Categories: Membranes & Trafficking, Microbiology, Virology & Host Pathogen Interaction

DOI: 10.15252/embj.2021109800


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