The interaction of water with organic solutes
The aqueous environments both inside and surrounding animal cells profoundly affect the structure and function of molecules and membranes. Solutes dissolved in water are surrounded by a shell of water molecules. The polarity of the water molecules in the shell is determined by the solute's ionic charge. The structure of proteins is profoundly affected by the activity of the water in which they reside, and by the types and quantities of ions present. The interactions of lipids with water are dominated by hydrophobic interactions. These interactions dictate the structure of membranes, and influence the locations and functions of proteins associated with membranes. The lipid bi-layer acts as a powerful barrier to trans-membrane movements. Proteins sited within the membrane can therefore play important roles as channels and transport moieties.
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