Encyclopedia of Biophysics

Living Edition
| Editors: Gordon Roberts, Anthony Watts, European Biophysical Societies

Lipid Membrane Electrostatics

  • Gregor CevcEmail author
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-642-35943-9_595-1


Ionizable polar residues of membrane forming lipids are chargeable in polar solvents, such as water. The resulting net charges’ density depends on the aggregated lipids as well as the dissolved protons concentration (see Table 1). Charged lipid headgroups interact with other ions, too, which then affect membrane properties. The right panel of Fig. 1 illustrates, for example, sodium chloride effects on some phase transitions in fully hydrated zwitterionic phosphatidylcholine bilayer membranes; its left panel reveals charge-driven accumulation of sodium cations near the corresponding anionic phosphatidylglycerol bilayers. Figure 2 shows rubidium counterion distribution perpendicular to lipid membranes with different charges’ density and distribution. Electro-osmotic phenomena involving living organism membranes are more complex but fundamentally similar.
Table 1

Negative logarithm of the protonation constant, -log Ka = pKa (or its apparent value pKapp) for the main...

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Copyright information

© European Biophysical Societies' Association (EBSA) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.The Advanced Treatments InstituteGautingGermany

Section editors and affiliations

  • John M. Seddon
    • 1
  1. 1.Membrane Biophysics Platform, Department of Chemistry and Institute of Chemical BiologyImperial College LondonLondonUK