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Curr Opin Cell Biol. 2003 Aug;15(4):372-81.

Mechanisms of membrane deformation.

Author information

  • 1Department of Cell Biology, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Boyer Center for Molecular Medicine, Yale University School of Medicine, 295 Congress Avenue, New Haven, CT 06510, USA.


Membrane traffic requires the generation of high-curvature lipid-bound transport carriers represented by tubules and vesicles. The mechanisms through which membranes are deformed has gained much recent attention. A major advance has been the demonstration that direct interactions between cytosolic proteins and lipid bilayers are important in the acquisition of membrane curvature. Rather than being driven only by the formation of membrane-associated structural scaffolds, membrane deformation requires physical perturbation of the lipid bilayer. A variety of proteins have been identified that directly bind and deform membranes. An emerging theme in this process is the importance of amphipathic peptides that partially penetrate the lipid bilayer.

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