Lipids and Biomembranes

ID #2335

I got a little confused in lecture when Prof. Mehrtens started talking about membranes being asymmetrical due to lipids. Could someone explains why they are asymmetrical?

Asymmetry (with reference to biomembranes) means that the composition and locations of phospholipids will vary between leaflets in a membrane. For example, there may be more phosphatidylcholine (a type of phospholipid) in the outer leaflet than in the inner leaflet. The location of proteins will also differ between leaflets in a biomembrane. I want to also emphasize that asymmetry DOES NOT mean that there are more lipids in one leaflet than the other. There is approximately the same amount of lipids in each leaflet of a biomembrane, but it is the composition of lipids in each leaflet that differs.

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