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Cell Membranes offers a solid foundation for understanding the structure and function of biological membranes. The book explores the composition and dynamics of cell membranes, discussing the molecular and biological diversity of its lipid and protein components and how the combinatorial richness of both components explains the chemical, mechanical, and self-renewing properties of cell membranes. Cell Membranes is a valuable resource for advanced undergraduate students, graduate students, and professionals.
The mycoplasmas, a trivial name used to denote organisms included in the class Mollicutes, are a group of prokaryotic organisms comprising more than 120 species distinguished from ordinary bacteria by their small size and the total lack of cell walls. The absence of a cell wall in mycoplasmas is a characteristic of outstanding importance to which the mycoplasmas owe many of their pecu liarities, for example, their morphological instability, osmotic sensitivity, unique ion pumping systems, resistance to antibiotics that interfere with cell wall bio synthesis, and susceptibility to lysis by detergents and alcohols. The fact that the mycoplasma cells contain only one membrane type, the plasma membrane, constitutes one of their most useful properties for membrane studies; once the membrane is isolated, it is uncontaminated with other mem brane types. Another advantage in using mycoplasmas as models for membrane studies stems from the fact that their membrane lipid composition can be altered in a controlled manner. This characteristic results from the partial or total inabili ty of the mycoplasmas to synthesize long-chain fatty acids and cholesterol, making mycoplasmas dependent on the supply of fatty acids from the growth medium. The ability to introduce controlled alterations in the fatty acid composi tion and cholesterol content of mycoplasma membranes has been utilized in studying the molecular organization and physical properties of biological mem branes.
The present volume contains the edited transcript of a Totts Gap Colloquium held May 19-21, 1980 sponsored by the Muscular Dystrophy Association. The aim of the colloquium was to bring into focus data relating to cell membranes that might contribute to understanding the pathogenic mechanism of Duchenne muscular dystrophy. A major impediment to progress in understanding the patho genesis of muscular dystrophy has been the failure, so far, to identify the basic genetic defect. Pending the identification of the genetic lesion in Duchenne dystrophy and, in view of scattered but persistent indications of a basic membrane disturbance, it seemed worthwhile to explore in open dialogue the current state of knowledge of membrane morphology and chemistry with an eye to possible leads for further investigation. The participants, drawn from a variety of interested disciplines, attempted to synthesize and reconcile their findings and to identify crucial areas of ignorance in need of exploration. For the most part they avoided specialized jargon and spoke in a language that could be understood by the rest of the group. Apart from providing a review of widely varying approaches to the study of the composition and behavior of cell membranes, the discussions brought together current think~g on strategies and approaches to the study of the pathogenesis of muscular dystrophy. Already the personal contacts made at the colloquium have led to new inter-institutional collabora tive investigations.

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