Lipid Bilayer Membranes: Their Permeability Properties as Related to Those of Cell Membranes
Of the numerous functions that plasma membranes perform, the maintenance of the internal milieu of the cell through selective permeability and transport characteristics is perhaps the most essential, and certainly the most studied. One approach, with a long and distinguished tradition, for investigating this aspect of cell membranes is the building and analysis of model systems that emulate some of the properties of natural membranes. Of the models that have been investigated over the years, the lipid bilayer membrane (which is currently in vogue) has by far proved to be the most suitable and interesting—suitable, because a lipid bilayer is the major structural feature of all cell membranes; and interesting, because (a) many of the permeability characteristics of cell membranes can be reproduced with this model, and (b) reconstitution in artificial bilayers of natural transporting systems is possible. In this chapter, I review some highlights of the research involving this model system, and indicate possible future avenues of investigation.
KeywordsCholesterol Sugar Hydrocarbon Adenosine Carbonyl
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