Why are biological membranes asymmetrical?
The components of biological membranes- lipids, proteins, and cholesterol are organized as asymmetric bimolecular leaflets of lipids with embedded proteins. Each type of integral membrane protein has a single, specific orientation with respect to the cytosolic and exoplasmic faces of a cellular membrane and asymmetry in protein orientation confers different properties on the two membrane faces.
The membrane lipid asymmetry is important for signal transduction. Lipid rafts --regions of the outer leaflet involved in specific functions such as lipid trafficking and signaling.
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