Centrifugation of membrane vesicles, prepared from ultrasonically disrupted K12, on to a planar surface followed by slow, partial dehydration results in a high degree of parallel orientation of the membrane planes with respect to each other and the supporting surface. Rotation of such membrane multilayers about a single axis parallel with the membrane planes within the magnetic field of an electron paramagnetic resonance (e.p.r.) spectrometer allows the orientation of anisotropic paramagnetic centres to be deduced. Computer simulations of the angular dependence of cytochrome e.p.r. spectra show two, or perhaps three, cytochromes, well-oriented with respect to the membrane plane. A low-spin cytochrome is oriented with the normal to its haem plane lying in the membrane plane. One (or perhaps two) high-spin cytochrome(s) lies with its haem plane making an angle of 45° with the membrane plane. The orientation of the low-spin cytochrome haem is thus the same as that of haems in -type cytochromes and cytochrome oxidases of the type found in the mitochondria of higher animal and microbial cells and the bacterium (Erecińska , 1979). The possible identity of this low-spin component as the terminal oxidase, cytochrome , is discussed.


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