Advanced topics on membrane biochemistry and biophysics. Relationship of the unique properties of biomembranes to their roles in cell biology and physiology.
- Lipid is a loosely defined term for substances of biological origin that are soluble in nonpolar solvents. It comprises a group of naturally occurring molecules that include fats, waxes, sterols, fat-soluble vitamins (such as vitamins A, D, E, and K), monoglycerides, diglycerides, triglycerides, phospholipids, and others.
- Biological membranes consist of a phospholipid bilayer with embedded, integral and peripheral proteins. The bulk of lipid in a cell membrane provides a fluid matrix for proteins to rotate and laterally diffuse for physiological functioning. Proteins are adapted to high membrane fluidity environment of lipid bilayer with the presence of an annular lipid shell, consisting of lipid molecules bound tightly to surface of integral membrane proteins.
- One of the most important properties of a lipid bilayer is the relative mobility (fluidity) of the individual lipid molecules and how this mobility changes with temperature. This response is known as the phase behavior of the bilayer. The phase behavior of lipid bilayers is largely determined by the strength of the attractive Van der Waals interactions between adjacent lipid molecules. The extent of this interaction is in turn governed by the length of the lipid tails and how they pack together.
- Membrane proteins are common proteins that are part of, or interact with, biological membranes. Membrane proteins fall into several broad categories depending on their location. Integral membrane proteins are a permanent part of a cell membrane and can either penetrate the membrane (transmembrane) or associate with one or the other side of a membrane (integral monotopic).