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Permeability of Molecules

By Lou Gross1, Monica Beals1, Susan Harrell1

University of Tennessee Knoxville

This module introduces Overton's Rule in the context of understanding the permeability of molecules across the cell membrane. It is intended for an introductory biology audience.

Listed in Teaching Materials | resource by group Quantitative Biology at Community Colleges

Version 1.0 - published on 10 Dec 2018 doi:10.25334/Q4JT77 - cite this

Licensed under CC Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International according to these terms

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This activity maps to the OpenStax biology textbook, 5.2 Passive Transport

Student Introduction: In the late 1800's, E. Overton discovered that substances that dissolve in lipids pass more easily into the cell than those that dissolve in water. This was some of the first evidence that cells were surrounded by a lipid membrane. The phospholipid membrane of cells can greatly modify the permeation of molecules into a cell. The membrane acts as a barrier to passive diffusion of water-soluble molecules. However, substances that dissolve in lipids pass more easily into the cell. The correlation between permeability and solubility in lipidly is appropriately named Overton's Rule.


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