During the progression of Mycoplasma hominis cultures from the early logarithmic phase to the stationary phase of growth, the total phospholipid content of the cell membranes decreased. Measurement of the amount of the various phospholipids during the growth cycle showed that a decrease in the phosphatidylglycerol (PG) content, accompanied by an increase in the phosphatidic acid content, occurred upon aging of the culture. Pulse labeling experiments revealed that the PG, once formed, is relatively stable, undergoing no detectable turnover in growing cultures of M. hominis. No changes in the fatty acid composition of the membrane phospholipids were observed on aging of the culture, with palmitic acid predominating throughout the growth cycle. The preferential incorporation of palmitate into the phospholipid fraction is apparently caused by the higher activity of the membrane-bound acyl-coenzyme A (CoA):alpha-glycerophosphate transacylase with palmityl-CoA rather than with oleyl-CoA as substrate. The activity of the soluble acyl-CoA synthetase was the same whether palmitate or oleate served as substate. M. hominis membrane preparations contained a PG-synthetase system catalyzing the incorporation of L-alpha-glycerol-3-phosphate into PG. The activity of the PG synthetase system was markedly dependent on the age of the culture, being highest in cells from the early exponential phase of growth while declining sharply thereafter, and thus probably responsible, in part, for the decrease in PG content upon aging of the cells. Electron paramagnetic resonance spectra of a spin-labeled fatty acid incorporated in M. hominis membranes revealed a marked decrease in the freedom of motion of the spin label on aging of the culture. It is proposed that this decrease is due primarily to the decrease in the lipid-to-protein ratio of the membranes and has a marked effect on the activity of membrane-associated enzymes and transport systems
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