Lipids in Health and Disease

Volume 49 of the series Subcellular Biochemistry pp 197-239

Lipids in the Assembly of Membrane Proteins and Organization of Protein Supercomplexes: Implications for Lipid-linked Disorders

  • Mikhail Bogdanov
  • , Eugenia Mileykovskaya
  • , William DowhanAffiliated withDepartment of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, University of Texas-Houston, Medical School, 6431 Fannin St

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Lipids play important roles in cellular dysfunction leading to disease. Although a major role for phospholipids is in defining the membrane permeability barrier, phospholipids play a central role in a diverse range of cellular processes and therefore are important factors in cellular dysfunction and disease. This review is focused on the role of phospholipids in normal assembly and organization of the membrane proteins, multimeric protein complexes, and higher order supercomplexes. Since lipids have no catalytic activity, it is difficult to determine their function at the molecular level. Lipid function has generally been defined by affects on protein function or cellular processes. Molecular details derived from genetic, biochemical, and structural approaches are presented for involvement of phosphatidylethanolamine and cardiolipin in protein organization. Experimental evidence is presented that changes in phosphatidylethanolamine levels results in misfolding and topological misorientation of membrane proteins leading to dysfunctional proteins. Examples are presented for diseases in which proper protein folding or topological organization is not attained due to either demonstrated or proposed involvement of a lipid. Similar changes in cardiolipin levels affects the structure and function of individual components of the mitochondrial electron transport chain and their organization into supercomplexes resulting in reduced mitochondrial oxidative phosphorylation efficiency and apoptosis. Diseases in which mitochondrial dysfunction has been linked to reduced cardiolipin levels are described. Therefore, understanding the principles governing lipid-dependent assembly and organization of membrane proteins and protein complexes will be useful in developing novel therapeutic approaches for disorders in which lipids play an important role.


Membrane protein folding Phosphatidylethanolamine Cardiolipin Mitochondria Oxidative phosphorylation