Mapping the electrostatic profiles of cellular membranes

Sharon Eisenberg, Ehud Haimov, Glenn F.W. Walpole, Jonathan Plumb, Michael M. Kozlov, Sergio Grinstein*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Anionic phospholipids can confer a net negative charge on biological membranes. This surface charge generates an electric field that serves to recruit extrinsic cationic proteins, can alter the disposition of transmembrane proteins and causes the local accumulation of soluble counterions, altering the local pH and the concentration of physiologically important ions such as calcium. Because the phospholipid compositions of the different organellar membranes vary, their surface charges are similarly expected to diverge. Yet, despite the important functional implications, remarkably little is known about the electrostatic properties of the individual organellar membranes. We therefore designed and implemented approaches to estimate the surface charges of the cytosolic membranes of various organelles in situ in intact cells. Our data indicate that the inner leaflet of the plasma membrane is most negative, with a surface potential of approximately -35 mV, followed by the Golgi complex >lysosomes >mitochondria ≈ peroxisomes >endoplasmic reticulum, in decreasing order.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)301-310
Number of pages10
JournalMolecular Biology of the Cell
Issue number3
StatePublished - Feb 2021


Dive into the research topics of 'Mapping the electrostatic profiles of cellular membranes'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this