X-ray Diffraction Studies of Cell Membranes

  • J. B. Finean


For X-ray diffraction studies one requires a repeating pattern of structure that is both regular and extensive and the diffracting system must constitute a large proportion of the specimen exposed to the X-ray beam. A few membrane systems fulfil the requirements in the natural state. So far the nerve myelin sheath has provided the most detailed X-ray diffraction patterns, and these have been interpreted (Finean and Burge 1963) to provide an outline of molecular organization that may be of general significance in membrane structure. Electron microscope studies of mammalian tissues indicate that retinal rods and cones should provide a diffracting system if the retina can be suitable exposed. In some tissues such as muscle and kidney, mitochondria tend to be elongated, aligned, and close packed, and the tristae fairly regularly and closely spaced so as to provide a possible diffracting system, but diffraction studies of mitochondria in intact hydrated tissue have not yet been reported. The studies reported by Worthington (1960) were of mitochondria in intact but dried insect flight muscle.


  1. Fin Finean, J. B., 1960: Electron microscope and X-ray diffraction studies of the effects of dehydration on the structure of nerve myelin. I. Peripheral nerve and II. Optic nerve. J. Biophys. Biochem. Cytol. 8, 13 and 31.Google Scholar
  2. Fin Finean, J. B., and R. E. Burge, 1963: The determination of the Fourier Transform of the myelin layer from a study of swelling phenomena. J. Mol. Biol. 7, 672.Google Scholar
  3. Fin Finean, J. B., and A. Mar ton o s i, 1965: The action of phospholipase C on muscle microsomes: A correlation of electron microscope and biochemical data. Biochim. Biophys. Acta 90, 547.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Fin Finean, J. B., F. S. S j ö s t r and, and E. Steinman n, 1953: Submicroscopic organisation of some layered lipoprotein structures. ( Nerve myelin, retinal rods and chloroplasts.) Exper. Cell Res. 5, 537.Google Scholar
  5. Svester, N. R., 1964: The cilia of Tetrahymena pyriformis: X-ray diffraction by the ciliary membrane. J. Mol. Biol. 8, 11.Google Scholar
  6. Worthing to n, C. R., 1960: Discrete low-angle X-ray diffraction from air-dried mitochondria. J. Mol. Biol. 2, 327.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Wien 1967

Authors and Affiliations

  • J. B. Finean
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Medical BiochemistryPharmacology The UniversityBirmingham 15England

Personalised recommendations