Sterols and Membranes

  • Konrad Bloch


Research described in this article was prompted by some speculations dealing with the ultimate origin and evolution of the sterol molecule and the corollary inquiry whether various structural features characteristic of cholesterol and its cyclic biosynthetic precursors can be rationalized in terms of function (Bloch, 1976). The riddle why certain organic molecules occur in cells and others do not has received surprisingly little attention. This Aristotelian question is perhaps unanswerable given the fact that knowledge of the chemical components comprising the primordial soup is beyond reach. Yet as I will attempt to show, in the instance of cholesterol the inquiry into the motives of nature has met with some success and the hypothesis verified experimentally to some extent. We can invoke evolutionary pressures as the driving force that shaped precursor molecules to the structure that ultimately came to reside and function competently in cell membranes.


Fatty Acyl Chain Sterol Biosynthesis Sterol Molecule Sterol Side Chain Primordial Soup 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1982

Authors and Affiliations

  • Konrad Bloch
    • 1
  1. 1.The James Bryant Conant LaboratoriesHarvard UniversityCambridgeUSA

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