Transmembrane asymmetry of cardiolipin in yeast was monitored during the switch from fermentative to gluconeogenic growth and the reverse. As soon as cells used ethanol as an electron donor to produce ATP by oxidative phosphorylation, rapid and abundant cardiolipin synthesis was observed on the matrix side of the inner mitochondrial membrane followed by a transverse rearrangement between the two leaflets. The cardiolipin distribution changed from about 20:80 (in/out) to 70:30 (in/out), and after translocation towards the outer leaflet it finally became 37:63 (in/out). At the same time, cytochrome coxidase activity remained stable, then increased as a possible result of the topographical rearrangement. During the reverse process from gluconeogenic to fermentative growth, the amount of cardiolipin rapidly decreased by half, its bilayer distribution apparently changing to a monolayer organization before the 20:80 (in/out) asymmetry of repressed cells was re-established. Experimental impairment of cardiolipin topography by antibiotic inhibition of gene expression or in situdissipation of mitochondrial membrane potential produced data that prove that the amount and transmembrane distribution of the phospholipid are two specific parameters of the mitochondrial inner membrane organization in both fermentative (2.2 fmol/cell and 20:80, in/out) and gluconeogenic (4.2 fmol/cell and 37:63, in/out) growing yeast cells. Finally, the inner mitochondrial membrane topography of cardiolipin appeared to be closely associated with the transmembrane redox potential.

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