Lipid polymorphisms and membrane shape. Academic Article uri icon


  • Morphological plasticity of biological membrane is critical for cellular life, as cells need to quickly rearrange their membranes. Yet, these rearrangements are constrained in two ways. First, membrane transformations may not lead to undesirable mixing of, or leakage from, the participating cellular compartments. Second, membrane systems should be metastable at large length scales, ensuring the correct function of the particular organelle and its turnover during cellular division. Lipids, through their ability to exist with many shapes (polymorphism), provide an adequate construction material for cellular membranes. They can self-assemble into shells that are very flexible, albeit hardly stretchable, which allows for their far-reaching morphological and topological behaviors. In this article, we will discuss the importance of lipid polymorphisms in the shaping of membranes and its role in controlling cellular membrane morphology.

publication date

  • November 1, 2011