Hydrophobic effect

Hydrophobic Effect

Hydrophobic effect

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The hydrophobic effect is the observed tendency of nonpolar substances to aggregate in aqueous solution and exclude water molecules.Interfaces and the driving force of hydrophobic assembly Nature, Volume 437, Issue 7059, pp. 640-647 (2005) The name, literally meaning "water-fearing," describes the segregation and apparent repulsion between water and nonpolar substances. The hydrophobic effect explains the separation of a mixture of oil and water into its two components, and the beading of water on nonpolar surfaces such as waxy leaves. At the molecular level, the hydrophobic effect is important in driving protein folding, formation of lipid bilayers and micelles, insertion of membrane proteins into the nonpolar lipid environment and protein-small molecule interactions.


Amphiphiles are molecules that have both hydrophobic and hydrophilic domains. Detergents are composed of amphiphiles that allow hydrophobic molecules to be solubilized in water by forming micelles and bilayers (as in soap bubbles). They are also important to cell membranes composed of amphiphilic phospholipids that prevent the internal aqueous environment of a cell from mixing with external water.

Folding of macromolecules

In the case of protein folding, the hydrophobic effect is...
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