Regulatory role of membrane fluidity in gene expression and physiological functions

Dmitry A. Los, Kirill S. Mironov, Suleyman I. Allakhverdiev

    Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

    165 Citations (Scopus)


    Plants, algae, and photosynthetic bacteria experience frequent changes in environment. The ability to survive depends on their capacity to acclimate to such changes. In particular, fluctuations in temperature affect the fluidity of cytoplasmic and thylakoid membranes. The molecular mechanisms responsible for the perception of changes in membrane fluidity have not been fully characterized. However, the understanding of the functions of the individual genes for fatty acid desaturases in cyanobacteria and plants led to the directed mutagenesis of such genes that altered the membrane fluidity of cytoplasmic and thylakoid membranes. Characterization of the photosynthetic properties of the transformed cyanobacteria and higher plants revealed that lipid unsaturation is essential for protection of the photosynthetic machinery against environmental stresses, such as strong light, salt stress, and high and low temperatures. The unsaturation of fatty acids enhances the repair of the damaged photosystem II complex under stress conditions. In this review, we summarize the knowledge on the mechanisms that regulate membrane fluidity, on putative sensors that perceive changes in membrane fluidity, on genes that are involved in acclimation to new sets of environmental conditions, and on the influence of membrane properties on photosynthetic functions.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)489-509
    Number of pages21
    JournalPhotosynthesis research
    Issue number2-3
    Publication statusPublished - Oct 2013


    • Cold stress
    • Cyanobacteria
    • Fatty acid desaturases
    • Membrane fluidity
    • Photosynthesis

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Biochemistry
    • Plant Science
    • Cell Biology


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