The bi-directional translocation of lipids from one side of a biological membrane to the other is termed flip-flop. Lipid flip-flop across the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) membrane is required for protein N-glycosylation and GPI-anchoring. These protein modifications are essential in eukaryotes;for example, their genetic abrogation causes embryonic lethality in mammals and renders yeast unviable. Lipid flip-flop across the ER is also required for membrane biogenesis: phospholipids that are synthesized on the cytoplasmic face of the ER must be translocated to the opposite face to enable the membrane bilayer to grow uniformly. The demand for lipid flip-flop at the ER is likely to be exceptionally high when the ER membrane expands and glycoprotein secretion increases;this occurs, for example, during the differentiation of B-lymphocytes to antibody-secreting plasma B cells. Unassisted flip-flop is extremely slow because of the energy barrier to taking the polar lipid head group through the hydrophobic interior of the membrane, yet lipids flip-flop rapidly across the ER membrane on a time-scale of seconds. This is because the ER possesses specific transport proteins (flippases) that accelerate lipid flipping to a physiologically sufficient rate. Lipid flipping in the ER occurs by an ATP-independent mechanism in which the flippases facilitate 'downhill'transport of lipids;this distinguishes ER flippases from other translocators, typically found in the eukaryotic plasma membrane, that couple ATP hydrolysis to concentrative 'uphill'transport of lipids. We estimate that there are as many as six different ER lipid flippases but none of these have been identified at the molecular level. We developed biochemical reconstitution systems that recapitulate the activity of three of the flippases required for ER membrane bilayer expansion and protein glycosylation. These flippases specifically translocate glycerophospholipids, oligosaccharide diphosphate dolichols and mannose-phosphate dolichol.
Our aim i s to identify these physiologically important translocators with the long-term goal of understanding their mechanism of action. We propose to do this via a two-pronged approach involving protein purification and mass spectrometry on the one hand, and screening of systematic collections of yeast ER membrane proteins on the other. Our purification efforts will be aided by the use of novel affinity matrices. We will also use partially purified flippase preparations to continue our efforts to define the specificity of these proteins. Our published work and preliminary data put us in an excellent position to accomplish these aims.

Public Health Relevance

Flipping of lipids from one side of a biological membrane to the other is necessary for membrane expansion during cell growth, as well as for the biosynthesis of molecules that play critical roles in human and microbial physiology. These molecules include glycoproteins such as the neural cell adhesion molecule, GPI-anchored proteins such as acetylcholinesterase, glycolipids such as the receptor for cholera toxin, components of the cell walls of bacteria and yeast, and the O-antigen of E. coli lipopolysaccharide. We are interested in identifying the transport proteins that catalyze lipid flipping in yeast and mammals and understanding how they work.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS)
Research Project (R01)
Project #
Application #
Study Section
Membrane Biology and Protein Processing (MBPP)
Program Officer
Ainsztein, Alexandra M
Project Start
Project End
Budget Start
Budget End
Support Year
Fiscal Year
Total Cost
Indirect Cost
Weill Medical College of Cornell University
Schools of Medicine
New York
United States
Zip Code
Goren, Michael A; Morizumi, Takefumi; Menon, Indu et al. (2014) Constitutive phospholipid scramblase activity of a G protein-coupled receptor. Nat Commun 5:5115
Holthuis, Joost C M; Menon, Anant K (2014) Lipid landscapes and pipelines in membrane homeostasis. Nature 510:48-57
Jelk, Jennifer; Gao, Ningguo; Serricchio, Mauro et al. (2013) Glycoprotein biosynthesis in a eukaryote lacking the membrane protein Rft1. J Biol Chem 288:20616-23
Levine, Tim P; Menon, Anant K (2013) A protein pair with PIPs inside. Structure 21:1070-1
Malvezzi, Mattia; Chalat, Madhavan; Janjusevic, Radmila et al. (2013) Ca2+-dependent phospholipid scrambling by a reconstituted TMEM16 ion channel. Nat Commun 4:2367
Georgiev, Alexander G; Johansen, Jesper; Ramanathan, Vidhya D et al. (2013) Arv1 regulates PM and ER membrane structure and homeostasis but is dispensable for intracellular sterol transport. Traffic 14:912-21
Wragg, Rachel T; Snead, David; Dong, Yongming et al. (2013) Synaptic vesicles position complexin to block spontaneous fusion. Neuron 77:323-34
Anjem, Adil; Imlay, James A (2012) Mononuclear iron enzymes are primary targets of hydrogen peroxide stress. J Biol Chem 287:15544-56
Chalat, Madhavan; Menon, Indu; Turan, Zeynep et al. (2012) Reconstitution of glucosylceramide flip-flop across endoplasmic reticulum: implications for mechanism of glycosphingolipid biosynthesis. J Biol Chem 287:15523-32
Menon, Indu; Huber, Thomas; Sanyal, Sumana et al. (2011) Opsin is a phospholipid flippase. Curr Biol 21:149-53

Showing the most recent 10 out of 16 publications