Related topics: cells · cell membrane · protein · diabetes · heart disease

Designing biological movement on the nanometer scale

Synthetic proteins have been created that move in response to their environment in predictable and tunable ways. These motile molecules were designed from scratch on computers, then produced inside living cells.

How to pop open soft nanoparticles using sound waves

Ultrasound has long been an important tool for medical imaging. Recently, medical researchers have demonstrated that focused ultrasound waves can also improve the delivery of therapeutic agents such as drugs and genetic material. ...

Plant cells eat their own... membranes and oil droplets

Biochemists at the U.S. Department of Energy's Brookhaven National Laboratory have discovered two ways that autophagy, or self-eating, controls the levels of oils in plant cells. The study, published in The Plant Cell on ...

Study unravels mystery of antimicrobial frog secretions

Japanese scientists, including researchers at Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology (TUAT) and Yokohama National University, have identified the molecular mechanism that gives the skin secretions of a species of ...

Water that never freezes

Can water reach minus 263 degrees Celsius without turning into ice? Yes it can, say researchers from ETH Zurich and the University of Zurich, if it is confined in nanometre-scale lipid channels.

Biosensor may provide better cancer diagnosis

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) researchers have developed a new biological sensor that could help clinicians better diagnose cancer and epilepsy.

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Lipid

Lipids are a broad group of naturally-occurring molecules which includes fats, waxes, sterols, fat-soluble vitamins (such as vitamins A, D, E and K), monoglycerides, diglycerides, phospholipids, and others. The main biological functions of lipids include energy storage, as structural components of cell membranes, and as important signaling molecules.

Lipids may be broadly defined as hydrophobic or amphiphilic small molecules; the amphiphilic nature of some lipids allows them to form structures such as vesicles, liposomes, or membranes in an aqueous environment. Biological lipids originate entirely or in part from two distinct types of biochemical subunits or "building blocks": ketoacyl and isoprene groups. Using this approach, lipids may be divided into eight categories: fatty acyls, glycerolipids, glycerophospholipids, sphingolipids, saccharolipids and polyketides (derived from condensation of ketoacyl subunits); and sterol lipids and prenol lipids (derived from condensation of isoprene subunits).

Although the term lipid is sometimes used as a synonym for fats, fats are a subgroup of lipids called triglycerides. Lipids also encompass molecules such as fatty acids and their derivatives (including tri-, di-, and monoglycerides and phospholipids), as well as other sterol-containing metabolites such as cholesterol. Although humans and other mammals use various biosynthetic pathways to both break down and synthesize lipids, some essential lipids cannot be made this way and must be obtained from the diet.

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