The Fluid Mosaic Model of the Structure of Cell Membranes

  title={The Fluid Mosaic Model of the Structure of Cell Membranes},
  author={S. Jonathan Singer and Garth L. Nicolson},
  pages={720 - 731}
A fluid mosaic model is presented for the gross organization and structure of the proteins and lipids of biological membranes. The model is consistent with the restrictions imposed by thermodynamics. In this model, the proteins that are integral to the membrane are a heterogeneous set of globular molecules, each arranged in an amphipathic structure, that is, with the ionic and highly polar groups protruding from the membrane into the aqueous phase, and the nonpolar groups largely buried in the… 


  • S. Singer
  • Biology
    Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences
  • 1972
The thermodynamic and experimental bases for the lipid‐globular protein mosaic model for the organization of biological membranes, which was proposed some six years ago and has since been elaborated 6,26 are described.

Membrane fluidity and cellular functions.

  • S. Singer
  • Biology, Chemistry
    Advances in experimental medicine and biology
  • 1975
The model of the lipids and proteins of membranes called the “fluid mosaic model” is adopted as a working hypothesis of membrane structure and what it might imply about the mechanisms of a variety of important cellular functions and activities is considered.

Lipid domains in model membranes: a brief historical perspective.

It has turned out to be difficult to quantitatively study the small-scale structure of biological membranes, and a major part of the insight into membrane micro- and nano-domains and the concepts used to describe them have hence come from studies of simple lipid bilayers as models of membranes.

Fluidity of cell membranes--current concepts and trends.


Renewed interest in the heterogeneity of membrane organization was awakened by a series of experiments and speculations on the organization of membrane lipids, which suggest, if only indirectly, that membranelipids are heterogeneously distributed.

The Fluid Mosaic Model of Membrane Structure

The fluid mosaic model is applied to explain or predict the relatively hydrophobic amino acid composition of integral proteins, their large content of a-helical secondary structure, the characteristics of the short-range interactions of lipids and integral protein, the molecular asymmetry of the integral proteins and phospholipids of membranes, the possible biogenesis of such asymmetry, and the mechanisms of transport of small ionic and polar molecules through membranes.

Toward a new picture of the living plasma membrane

New methods to study the organization of membrane components at these scales have also been developed, and provide an opportunity to synthesize a new picture of the living cell surface as an active membrane composite.


Lipid bilayers are model systems of choice in membrane research, and many workers in the field have attempted to characterize the structure of lipid bilayers alone in the hope that some of the findings for these model systems may illustrate features which are also important in theructure of biological membranes.

The Role of Membrane Lipids in the Arrangement of Complexes in Photosynthetic Membranes

The fluid-mosaic model of Singer and Nicolson (1972) states that the lipids arranged in a bilayer represent the fluid matrix in which the membrane proteins are distributed in a random manner within

Physics of biological membranes

A brief review of recent theoretical and experimental progress on lipid bilayer structure and dynamics, lipid phase transitions, lipid-protein and lipid-cholesterol interactions, intermembrane forces, and the physical constraints imposed on biomembrane function and evolution are presented.



Biological membrane structure, I. The protein crystal model for membranes.

  • G. VanderkooiD. E. Green
  • Biology, Chemistry
    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
  • 1970
A geometric model for the arrangement of phospholipid and protein in biological membrane systems has been proposed and all the lipid known to be present in membranes can be accommodated in this manner.

On the orientation of lipids in chloroplast and cell membranes

  • A. Benson
  • Biology, Chemistry
    Journal of the American Oil Chemists' Society
  • 1966
It is proposed that the lipids of membrane subunits are bound by hydrophobic association of the hydrocarbon chains regions within the interior of the protein, and the resulting two-dimensional lipoprotein aggregate would possess the strongly anionic charged groups of the phospholipids on its surface.

Calorimetric evidence for the liquid-crystalline state of lipids in a biomembrane.

Observations of morphological changes indicate that osmotic imbalance occurs when the membrane transition temperature exceeds the growth temperature, and that for transport processes to function properly the hydrocarbon chains must be in a liquid-like state.

On the noncatalytic proteins of membrane systems.

The concept of universality was re-enforced by two independent developments, which implicated structural protein as the protein coded for and assembled by the mitochondrial protein-synthesizing system, i.e., a role in modulating the activity of enzymes to which it is linked in a membrane.

Multiple protein components of mammalian cell membranes.

  • E. D. KiehnJ. Holland
  • Biology, Chemistry
    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
  • 1968
It will be shown that the various cellular membranes of cultured human and animal cells and of mouse tissues are composed of a large number of proteins of differing molecular weights.

Protein conformations in cellular membranes.

  • D. WallachP. Zahler
  • Medicine, Chemistry
    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
  • 1966
In order to have the films located reproducibly in the optical path, all manipulations of the films were performed with the plates in their plate-holders, and the reported optical measurements were higher than that obtained by the Lowry method.

Structure of Membranes: Reaction of Red Blood Cell Membranes with Phospholipase C

Treatment of human red blood cell membranes with phospholipase C releases 68 to 74 percent of the total membrane phosphorus into solution, through hydrolysis of membrane phospholips to diglycerides and water-soluble phosphorylated amines, and the membrane remains intact in phase microscopy.

Membrane structure: spin labeling and freeze etching of Mycoplasma laidawii.

A spin-labeled fatty acid was incorporated in vivo into the polar lipids of Mycoplasma laidlawii membranes and it is shown that the spin label in the intact membrane is slightly but significantly less mobile than it is in protein-free lipid extracts made from these membranes.

On the interactions of lipids and proteins in the red blood cell membrane.

The results indicate that a substantial fraction of the phospholipids and the proteins of the membranes can change structure independently of one another, suggesting a mosaic pattern for the organization of the lipids and proteins in membranes.