How proteins come together in the plasma membrane and function in macromolecular assemblies: Focus on receptor mosaics

Luigi F. Agnati, Diego Guidolin, Susanna Genedani, Sergi Ferré, Albertino Bigiani, Amina S. Woods, Kjell Fuxe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


Some theoretical aspects on structure and function of proteins have been discussed previously. Proteins form multimeric complexes, as they have the capability of binding other proteins (Lego property) resulting in multimeric complexes capable of emergent functions. Multimeric proteins might have either a genomic or a postgenomic origin. Proteins spanning the plasma membrane have been analyzed by considering the effects of the microenvironment in which the protein is embedded. In particular, the different effects of the hydrophilic (extracellular and intracellular) versus the lipophilic (intramembrane) environment have been considered. These aspects have been discussed in the framework of membrane microdomains, in particular, the so-called rafts. In α-helix proteins the individual peptide dipoles align to produce a macrodipole crossing the entire membrane. This macrodipole has its positive (extracellular) pole at the N-terminal end of the helix and its negative (intracellular) pole at the C-terminal end. This arrangement has been analyzed in the framework of the counter-ion atmosphere, that is, the formation of a cloud of small ions bearing an opposite charge. Excitable cells reverse their resting potential during the all-or-none action potentials. Hence, the extracellular side of the plasma membrane becomes negative with respect to the intracellular side. This change of polarization affects also the direction and magnitude of the α-helix dipole in view of the fact that there is a displacement of the counter ions. The oscillation in the intensity of the dipole caused by the action potentials opens the possibility of an interaction among dipoles by electromagnetic waves.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)133-153
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Molecular Neuroscience
Issue number2-3
StatePublished - Jun 2005
Externally publishedYes


  • Electromagnetic waves
  • Electrostatic interactions
  • Hydrogen bonds
  • Lego property
  • Lipophilic groups
  • Lipophobic groups
  • Protein-protein interactions
  • Receptor mosaics
  • Van der waals forces

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Biochemistry
  • Genetics


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