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J Gen Physiol. 1976 Aug;68(2):127-35.

Water and nonelectrolyte permeability of lipid bilayer membranes.

Abstract

Both the permeability coefficients (Pd's) through lipid bilayer membranes of varying composition (lecithin [L], lecithin:cholesterol [LC], and spingomyelin:cholesterol [SC]) and the n-hexadecane:water partition coefficients (Knc's) of H2O and seven nonelectrolytes (1,6 hexanediol, 1,4 butanediol, n-butyramide, isobutyramide, acetamide, formamide, and urea) were measured. For a given membrane compositiin, Pd/DKnc (where D is the diffusion constant in water) is the same for most of the molecules tested. There is no extraordinary dependence of Pd on molecular weight; thus, given Pd(acetamide), Pd(1,6 hexanediol) is correctly predicted from the Knc and D values for the two molecules. The major exceptions are H2O, whose value of Pd/DKnc is about 10-fold larger, and urea, whose value is about 5-fold smaller than the general average. In a "tight" membrane such as SC, Pd(n-butyramide)/Pd(isobutyramide)=2.5; thus this bilayer manifests the same sort of discrimination between branched and straight chain molecules as occurs in many plasma membranes. Although the absolute values of the Pd's change by more than a factor of 100 in going from the tightest membrane (SC) to the loosest (L), the relative values remain approximately constant. The general conclusion of this study is that H2O and nonelectrolytes cross lipid bilayer membranes by a solubility-diffusion mechanism, and that the bilayer interior is much more like an oil (a la Overton) than a rubber-like polymer (a la Lieb and Stein).

PMID:
956767
PMCID:
PMC2228420
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
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