Composition and Dynamics of Lipids in Biomembranes

  • T. E. Thompson
  • C. Huang


The basic idea underlying much of today’s research on biological membranes was formulated by Singer and Nicholson in 1972.(1) This construct, known as the fluid mosaic hypothesis, contains two essential elements. The first of these, a derivative of the Danielle and Davson model,(2) requires that the lipid component of the membrane be a bilayer in structure and con-tribute to the membrane its basic barrier properties. Although the lipid molecules are confined to the bilayer, they are free to exhibit a variety of motional modes such as vibration, rotation, and translation. The second element of the fluid mosaic hypothesis deals with the disposition of the protein components of the membrane. These components are immersed to varying degrees in the lipid bilayer. Some may be only superficially associated with the polar faces of the bilayer, some embedded in its hydro-phobic core, and others may completely span the bilayer. The fluid nature of the bilayer permits the protein components to move in both rotational and translational modes. These diffusional motions of the individual protein components may give rise to time-dependent patterns in the compositional mosaic.


Permeability Entropy Migration Glycerol Hydrocarbon 


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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1986

Authors and Affiliations

  • T. E. Thompson
    • 1
  • C. Huang
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of BiochemistryUniversity of Virginia School of MedicineCharlottesvilleUSA

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