Modification of Membrane Fluidity by Gravity


Biological membranes are preferentially composed of lipids and proteins, and it is assumed that mainly the proteins are responsible for their functional properties. Nevertheless, during the last years, the contribution of the plain lipid matrix and its physico-chemical parameters to membrane functionality has been shown to be of high relevance. This is also correct for the gravity dependence of cells and organisms which is well accepted since long for a wide range of biological systems. Thus, the question must be asked, whether, and how far plain lipid membranes are affected by gravity directly. In this study we show that the fluidity (viscosity) of plain lipid membranes, as well as that of cell membranes, is gravity dependent, using a multipurpose 96-well plate reader in the fluorescence polarization anisotropy mode in a parabolic flight mission. Plain lipid vesicles and cells from a human cancer cell line have been used in these experiments. Necessarily, membrane-integrated proteins should be affected by this in their function. As a consequence any living cell will be able to sense at least basically gravity.

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Sieber, M. , Hanke, W. and Kohn, F. (2014) Modification of Membrane Fluidity by Gravity. Open Journal of Biophysics, 4, 105-111. doi: 10.4236/ojbiphy.2014.44012.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


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