Effects of sterol-binding agent nystatin on wheat roots: the changes in membrane permeability, sterols and glycoceramides.

PMID 21726881


Plant sterols are important multifunctional lipids, which are involved in determining membrane properties. Biophysical characteristics of model lipid and isolated animal membranes with altered sterol component have been intensively studied. In plants however, the precise mechanisms of involvement of sterols in membrane functioning remain unclear. In present work the possible interactions between sterols and other membrane lipids in plant cells were studied. A useful experimental approach for elucidating the roles of sterols in membrane activity is to use agents that specifically bind with endogenous sterols, for example the antibiotic nystatin. Membrane characteristics and the composition of membrane lipids in the roots of wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) seedlings treated with nystatin were analyzed. The application of nystatin greatly increased the permeability of the plasma membrane for ions and SH-containing molecules and decreased the total sterol level mainly as a consequence of a reduction in the amount of β-sitosterol and campesterol. Dynamic light-scattering was used to confirm the in vitro formation of stable complexes between nystatin and β-sitosterol or cholesterol. Sterol depletion was accompanied by a significant rise in total glycoceramide (GlCer) content after 2h treatment with nystatin. Analysis of the GlCer composition using mass spectrometry with electrospray ionization demonstrated that nystatin induced changes in the ratio of molecular species of GlCer. Our results suggest that changes in the sphingolipid composition can contribute to the changes in plasma membrane functioning induced by sterol depletion.