Carotenoid binding to proteins: Modeling pigment transport to lipid membranes

Emilia Reszczyńska, Renata Welc, Wojciech Grudziński, Kazimierz Trębacz, Wiesław I. Gruszecki

Carotenoid pigments play numerous important physiological functions in human organism. Very special is a role of lutein and zeaxanthin in the retina of an eye and in particular in its central part, the macula lutea. In the retina, carotenoids can be directly present in the lipid phase of the membranes or remain bound to the protein-pigment complexes. In this work we address a problem of binding of carotenoids to proteins and possible role of such structures in pigment transport to lipid membranes. Interaction of three carotenoids, beta-carotene, lutein and zeaxanthin with two proteins: bovine serum albumin and glutathione Stransferase (GST) was investigated with application of molecular spectroscopy techniques: UV-Vis absorption, circular dichroism and Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR). Interaction of pigmentprotein complexes with model lipid bilayers formed with egg yolk phosphatidylcholine was investigated with application of FTIR, Raman imaging of liposomes and electrophysiological technique, in the planar lipid bilayer models. The results show that in all the cases of protein and pigment studied, carotenoids bind to protein and that the complexes formed can interact with membranes. This means that protein-carotenoid complexes are capable of playing physiological role in pigment transport to biomembranes.