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Curr Opin Cell Biol. 2007 Aug;19(4):426-35. Epub 2007 Jul 24.

Lipids and lipid modifications in the regulation of membrane traffic.

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Institute of Chemistry & Biochemistry, Department of Membrane Biochemistry, Freie Universit├Ąt Berlin, Takustrasse 6, 14195 Berlin, Germany.


Lipids play a multitude of roles in intracellular protein transport and membrane traffic. While a large body of data implicates phosphoinositides in these processes, much less is known about other glycerophospholipids such as phosphatidic acid, diacylglycerol, and phosphatidylserine. Growing evidence suggests that these lipids may also play an important role, either by mediating protein recruitment to membranes or by directly affecting membrane dynamics. Although membrane lipids are believed to be organized in microdomains, recent advances in cellular imaging methods paired with sophisticated reporters and proteomic analysis have led to the formulation of alternative ideas regarding the characteristics and putative functions of lipid microdomains and their associated proteins. In fact, the traditional view that membrane proteins may freely diffuse in a large 'sea of lipids' may need to be revised. Lastly, modifications of proteins by lipids or related derivatives have surprisingly complex roles on regulated intracellular transport of a wide range of molecules.

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