Dictionary > Amphiphile

Amphiphile

Definition
noun, plural: amphiphiles
A chemical compound containing both hydrophobic and hydrophilic portions
Supplement
Amphiphile is a chemical compound that is made up of hydrophilic and hydrophobic portions. The hydrophilic portion is water-loving. In contrast, the hydrophobic portion tends to repel water. The hydrophobic portion is a lipophilic group and typically a large hydrocarbon moiety. It is nonpolar and therefore would not dissociate into ions in the presence of water. The hydrophilic portion, in turn, may either be charged or uncharged polar functional group. Examples of amphiphiles are bile salts, phospholipids, soaps, detergents, and surfactants. Phospholipids, in particular, are essential component of biological membranes, such as the plasma membrane. The amphiphilic nature of the phospholipids allows the latter to form a phospholipid bilayer. The polar heads of the phospholipids are found on the exterior whereas the nonpolar tails are on the interior of the bilayer. This structural arrangement of phospholipids in the bilayer of plasma membrane is one of the reasons that the latter is selectively permeable (or semipermeable). It means that not all substances are allowed to enter or leave the cell. Certain substances can relatively move with ease across the phospholipid bilayer whereas others would not be able to unless there are transport or carrier proteins to shuttle them across the phospholipid bilayer of the plasma membrane.
Word origin: Greek amphis (“both”) + philia (“love”)
See also:

Related form(s):

  • amphiphilic (adjective, of or pertaining to an amphiphile)


    You will also like...

    human respiratory system
    Respiration

    The human respiratory system is an efficient system of inspiring and expiring respiratory gases. This tutorial provides ..

    Early Mammals on Earth
    Early Mammals on Earth

    The Earth's ecosphere was rapidly changing and throwing up a wide range of ecological niches that new adaptive organisms..

    Biological Cell schematic diagram
    Biological Cell Introduction

    It only takes one biological cell to create an organism. A single cell is able to keep itself functional through its 'mi..

    Golgi apparatus (3-D illustration)
    Role of Golgi Apparatus & Endoplasmic Reticulum in Protein Synthesis

    The endoplasmic reticulum and Golgi apparatus are the organelles involved in the translation step of protein synthesis a..

    Homeostasis by water regulation
    Homeostasis of Organism Water Regulation

    Osmoregulation is the regulation of water concentrations in the bloodstream, effectively controlling the amount of water..

    Neural Control Mechanisms
    Neural Control Mechanisms

    Neurons generate electric signals that they pass along to the other neurons or target tissues. In this tutorial, you wil..