Phospholipids (PLs) with polyunsaturated acyl chains are extremely abundant in a few specialized cellular organelles such as synaptic vesicles and photoreceptor discs, but their effect on membrane properties is poorly understood.
Here, we found that polyunsaturated PLs increased the ability of dynamin and endophilin to deform and vesiculate synthetic membranes. When cells incorporated polyunsaturated fatty acids into PLs, the plasma membrane became more amenable to deformation by a pulling force and the rate of endocytosis was accelerated, in particular, under conditions in which cholesterol was limiting.
Molecular dynamics simulations and biochemical measurements indicated that polyunsaturated PLs adapted their conformation to membrane curvature. Thus, by reducing the energetic cost of membrane bending and fission, polyunsaturated PLs may help to support rapid endocytosis.
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