Computer model simulates liver cell membrane that secretes bile

The formation of membrane domains for bile secretion depends on the lipid composition of the outer leaflet of the apical membrane. To understand the process of the formation of bile-salt insoluble and bile-salt soluble lipid domains group of Prof. Holzhütter from Computational Systems Biochemistry Group in Charité (Berlin) simulated the canalicular membrane of a liver cell using a computer model of the movement of the lipids in the membrane.

  • The lipids of the canalicular membrane are 38 % cholesterol (blue), 47 % phosphatidylcholine (green) and 15 % sphingomyelin (red) and can be either in a bile-salt soluble (dark) or insoluble (light) state.
  • The simulations show how the lipids arrange on the membrane forming maze-like bile-salt soluble and insoluble domains growing over time. The bile-salt soluble domain shows a lipid composition similar to that of the bile fluid. With the computer model, it is possible to investigate the influence of changes in the membrane composition on the process of lipid secretion into the bile.
  • Author of text and image: Johannes Eckstein

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