Structure and Function of Biological Membranes

  • David E. Green
  • Garret Vanderkooi
Conference paper


All living cells contain a multiplicity of membrane systems. One type of membrane forms the boundaries of cells (plasma membranes in mammalian systems); a derivative of a plasma membrane forms the multilayered insulating myelin sheath which surrounds nerves. Many subcellular organelles are both surrounded by membranes, and contain membranes within them which are made up of enzymes that carry out complicated concerted reactions, or function in energy transduction and conservation. For example, the mitochondrion is a system of two membranes, an outer membrane, and an inner membrane which contains the proteins that couple electron transfer reactions to the synthesis of adenosine triphosphate. The light-sensitive rhodopsin molecules found in the retinal rods of the eye are the principal protein components of the membranes which are concerned in the photoreception. The list could be extended, but the point to be made is that membrane systems, while having the same general structure and characteristics, have exceedingly diverse functions.


Biological Membrane Myelin Sheath Lipid Phase Charge Asymmetry Hydrophobic Force 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1971

Authors and Affiliations

  • David E. Green
    • 1
  • Garret Vanderkooi
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute for Enzyme ResearchUniversity of WisconsinMadisonUSA

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