Encyclopedia of Biophysics

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

Membrane Fluidity

  • Boris DzikovskiEmail author
  • Jack Freed
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-642-35943-9_546-1



The variety of anisotropic motions which contributes to the mobility of components in the biological membrane.


In 1972, Singer and Nicolson ( 1972) suggested the so-called fluid mosaic model of the biological membrane (Fig. 1). This useful hypothesis explained many phenomena occurring in model and biological membranes. According to this model, membrane proteins and other membrane-embedded compounds are suspended in a two-dimensional fluid formed by phospholipids. This fluid state of membrane lipids is critical for membrane function. It allows, for example, free diffusion and equal distribution of new cell-synthesized lipids and proteins; lateral diffusion of proteins and other molecules in signaling events and other membrane reactions; membrane fusion, i.e., fusion of vesicles with organelles; separation of membranes during cell division; etc.
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Copyright information

© European Biophysical Societies' Association (EBSA) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Chemistry and Chemical BiologyAdvanced Center for ESR Technology (ACERT), Cornell UniversityIthacaUSA

Section editors and affiliations

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