Mechanics of Lipid Bilayer Membranes
All cells have membranes. The plasma membrane encapsulates the cell’s interior, acting as a barrier against the outside world. In cells with nuclei (eukaryotic cells), membranes also form internal compartments (organelles) which carry out specialized tasks, such as protein modification and sorting in the case of the Golgi apparatus, and ATP production in the case of mitochondria. The main components of membranes are lipids and proteins. The proteins can be channels, carriers, receptors, catalysts, signaling molecules, or structural elements, and typically contribute a substantial fraction of the total membrane dry weight. The equilibrium properties of pure lipid membranes are relatively well-understood, and will be the main focus of this article. The framework of elasticity theory and statistical mechanics that we will develop will serve as the foundation for understanding biological phenomena such as the nonequilibrium behavior of membranes laden with ion pumps, the role of membrane elasticity in ion channel gating, and the dynamics of vesicle fission and fusion. Understanding the mechanics of lipid membranes is also important for drug encapsulation and delivery.
KeywordsPermeability Hydrolysis Hydrocarbon Resis Sorting
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