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Biological Membranes

plasma membrane all cells


encloses contents of entire cell
membrane-bound organelles of eukaryotic cells:
nuclear envelope
double membranes of mitochondria and chloroplasts

endoplasmic reticulum
Golgi apparatus
lysosomes / vacuoles
transport vesicles
et al.

Biological Membranes
membrane lipids form closed, double-layered sheets
no free edges
within cell, membranes form extensive interconnected
networks
lipid bilayers will self assemble in aqueous solution
membranes are deformable
important for cell fusion, budding, locomotion

urce of figure: Alberts Fig 10-5

flat sheet of phospholipid bilayer with


edges exposed to water:
energetically unfavorable / unstable

sealed compartment:
energetically favorable / stable

urce of figure: Alberts Fig 10-5

Doxil

(liposomal doxorubicin)

http://www.doxil.com/

Membrane Functions
compartmentalization
create separate environments for different activities
scaffold for biochemical activities
provide a selectively permeable barrier
prevent unrestricted exchange of molecules
transport solutes
exchange of molecules across the membrane
respond to external signals - signal transduction
signals travelling from a distance or from nearby cells
energy transduction - conversion of one form of energy into
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another

Components of Biological Membranes


amphipathic lipids arranged in a bilayer
form backbone - prevent random movement of water soluble
molecules in / out
proteins
perform most of the specific functions of a particular
membrane or patch of membrane
carbohydrates
attached to proteins and lipids in a non-random way
relative amts of components variable, depending on:
type of organism (prokaryote vs animal vs plant)
type of cell within organism (muscle, liver, sperm, egg, )
type of membrane within cell (plasma membrane, Golgi, ER)
different patches or domains within a particular
membrane
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Phospholipid: Phosphatidyl Choline

Membrane Phospholipids
polar head group

phosphate
glycerol

fatty acid chain

phosphatidyl choline (PC)


phosphatidyl serine (PS)
phosphatidyl ethanolamine (PE)
phosphatidyl inositol (PI)
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Asymmetry of Membrane Lipids


Extracellular
cholesterol
e.g. human red blood cell:
PC and SM (sphingomyelin)
mostly outer leaflet;
PS, PE, PI mostly inner
the appearance of PS in outer
leaflet of membrane usually
indicates that cell is going to die

Cytosolic

Human RBCs as Model Organism for Plasma Membrane


best understood plasma membrane!
cells are inexpensive and available in large numbers
already present in single cell suspension
simple - no nucleus, ER, lysosomes, mitochondria
very pure preps of plasma membranes
purified intact plasma membranes can be prepared by
producing red blood cell ghosts

Fig 6.26

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Fluid Mosaic Model of Membranes

old view of membranes, as static sandwiches (Fig


6.18) has been replaced

Fluid Mosaic Model of Membranes

phospholipids are constantly moving


spinning in place; travelling laterally within leaflet
some phospholipids are flipped to the opposite leaflet
during membrane synthesis but they rarely flop back
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even proteins cruise slowly through the membrane!

actors affecting Membrane Stiffness or Fluidity


mostly related to alignment of phospholipid tails:
degree of saturation of FAs
presence of cholesterol
temperature

Lipid Composition and Membrane Fluidity


fatty acid tails saturated versus unsaturated

Fig 6.9

Fig 6.10

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holesterol and Membrane Fluidity

under physiological conditions, cholesterol makes


membrane stiffer less fluid
cholesterol can make up to 50% of plasma membrane
lipid in some animal cells
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Temperature and Membrane Fluidity


transition temp = temp at which membrane gels

above transition temp

below transition temp

at and above room temperature phospholipids in


membranes are fluid, and move freely
as temperature drops, fluidity (and permeability)
decreases
at very low temps, hydrophobic tails pack together and
membrane gels (solidifies)
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Regulation of Membrane Fluidity


fluid state must be maintained for normal cell function
strategies for maintaining membrane fluidity:
change composition of membranes
alter phospholipids
desaturate fatty acids (to deal with cold)
eg cold water vs warm water fish
change length of FA chains (yeast, bacteria)
adjust amounts of cholesterol (animals)
these mechanisms have been demonstrated in:
pond fish dealing with dramatic day / night temp differences
cold-resistant plants
extremophile bacteria living in hot springs
winter wheat preparing for autumn polyunsaturated FAs
sperm reduce their cholesterol just before fertilization
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Membrane Proteins
extracellular

peripheral
membrane
protein

integral protein
(trans-membrane)

cytosolic

peripheral
membrane
protein

peripheral proteins can be attached to phospholipids or


other proteins
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asymmetrically distributed inside versus outside
cell

Non-polar regions lock proteins into membranes.


polar areas
of protein
phospholipids

nonpolar areas of
protein

penetrate hydrophobic core of membrane


can be single pass, multi-pass, pores

Proteins folded into a helices can form channels.


H+
NH2

COOH
H+

Proteins folded into pleated sheets can form pores.


-pleated sheets

Peripheral Membrane Proteins

located outside the lipid bilayer


can be extracellular or intracellular
typically function in signal transduction or anchoring cell

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Major Functions of Membrane Proteins