Causes of Nondiffusing Lipid in the Plasma Membrane of Mammalian Spermatozoa

Biochemistry. 1988 Feb 9;27(3):860-5. doi: 10.1021/bi00403a004.


In the plasma membranes of most mammalian somatic cells, lipid is nearly completely free to diffuse laterally in the plane of the membrane. In mammalian spermatozoa and certain other highly polarized mammalian cells, a significant fraction of the plasma membrane lipid is not free to diffuse laterally. Using the technique of fluorescence recovery after photobleaching, we have demonstrated that a variety of fluorescent lipid analogues exhibit a nondiffusing fraction in the plasma membrane of the anterior region of the ram sperm head. The possible causes of this nondiffusing fraction were investigated. The nondiffusing lipid fraction is not the result of lipid oxidation during handling, and it is not released by extensive enzymatic digestion of the membrane surface proteins or the "bleeding" of the membrane by hypoosmotic shock. When lipid bilayers were prepared from protein-free lipid extracts of the plasma membranes of spermatozoa, most of the nondiffusing fraction was retained. These results suggest that the nondiffusing lipid fraction results from lipid factors such as lateral phase separations, which can cause such a nondiffusing fraction in model systems.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Fractionation
  • Cell Membrane / metabolism
  • Cell Membrane / ultrastructure
  • Diffusion
  • Electron Spin Resonance Spectroscopy
  • Lipid Bilayers
  • Male
  • Membrane Fluidity*
  • Membrane Lipids / metabolism*
  • Sheep
  • Spermatozoa / cytology
  • Spermatozoa / metabolism*


  • Lipid Bilayers
  • Membrane Lipids