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By Rodolfo Paoletti, Dr. David Kritchevsky

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Extra info for Advances in lipid research. Vol. 15

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The disordered regions present at the boundaries between different phases could segregate certain components in a more fluid environment or could act as nucleation sites for growth and repair of the membrane. Aggregated proteins would also have advantages of specific interaction, high collision rates, and fast movements in two dimensions. All these factors are expected to have molecular and physiological significance, especially in functions related to transport, permeability, fusion, and aggregation.

A direct effect on the viscosity of membranes as manifested in the Long-Range Order in Biomembranes 45 gross lipid composition can be essentially ruled out. In terms of the plate model, trypsin- or virus-induced transformation or antibody-induced cap formation and pinocytosis could accompany a change in relative distribution of plate population and composition, thus changing the microenvironment of the receptor sites. Redistribution of plate population could, of course, alter other membrane characteristics, such as permeability and mediated transport properties.

This adaptation seems to counteract changes in rates of physiological and biochemical functions, such as permeability and transport, that a change in temperature may bring about (for a review, see Fourcans and Jain, 1974). Some clues to the significance of these variations in membrane fatty acids have come from studies on model membranes. Generally speaking, the temperature range of the gel-to-liquid crystalline phase transition of these membrane lipids encompasses the growth temperature of the organism, so that lipids in both gel and liquid crystalline phases are present.

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