Summary: Strains of amplifying the intrinsic membrane enzyme fumarate reductase accommodate the overproduced enzyme by increasing the amount of membrane material, in the form of intracellular tubular structures. These tubules have been observed in strains harbouring multicopy plasmids and in ampicillin hyper-resistant strains. A procedure has been developed for isolation of tubules nearly free of cytoplasmic membrane. Using protein A-gold labelling and optical diffraction of electron micrographs, a model for tubule structure is proposed. The tubules have a lower lipid/protein ratio than the cytoplasmic membrane, with the enzyme accounting for greater than 90% of the protein in the tubules. Both cytoplasmic membranes and tubules from amplified strains are enriched in cardiolipin and have a more fluid fatty acid composition than wild-type strains. Mutants defective in cardiolipin synthesis produce tubules in response to excess fumarate reductase, but these tubules have an altered appearance, indicating that lipid-protein interactions may be important for tubule assembly.


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