The cardiolipin molecule - rotatable in 3 dimensions

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Cardiolipin is an unusual phospholipid, found in mitochondrial membranes, mainly the inner one.

This compound (so called because it was first found in heart muscle, a rich source of mitochondria) is widely found in mitochondria in animal and plant cells, and also certain bacteria..

It stabilises the inner membrane structure and may be responsible for its infolding into cristae, also anchoring cytochromes of the respiratory electron transport chain into a functional unit, and acting as a reservoir for H+ ions which build up in the intermembrane space.

It has 4 fatty acid tails and is effectively a double phospholipid molecule, held together by a central glycerol residue. Rather than the saturated fatty acids shown here, the most common fatty acids are actually linoleic acid (18:2).

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