What causes phospholipids to flow so quickly in cell membranes? In Biology by Cambell et al. they state that a phospholipids can travel up to 2 micrometers per second. Is that a random movement or has anyone found that phospholipids have a current?


1 Answer 1


There must be charge considerations in the movement of molecules in the lipid membrane. There is also a consideration that some species of phospholipids will migrate to portions of the membrane with sharper or smoother curvature.

Waves of electrical potential can propagate along a lipid bilayer as well, which is very important to nerve axons and extended structures like that.

In general though the membrane is held together by vanDerWaals forces like other non-polar solvents. As such, the movements of lipids and proteins and other amphipathic molecules in the membrane are still largely Brownian (random) in the 2D surface of the membrane.


Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.