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J Chem Biol. 2008 Nov;1(1-4):63-77. doi: 10.1007/s12154-008-0010-6. Epub 2008 Sep 23.

Sterols and membrane dynamics.

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UMR 5248 Chemistry and Biology of Membranes and Nanoobjects, CNRS-Université Bordeaux 1-ENITAB, CNRS Université Bordeaux, 2 Rue Robert Escarpit, 33607, Pessac, France,


The effect of sterols from mammals, plants, fungi, and bacteria on model and natural membrane dynamics are reviewed, in the frame of ordering-disordering properties of membranes. It is shown that all sterols share a common property: the ability to regulate dynamics in order to maintain membranes in a microfluid state where it can convey important biological processes. Depending on the sterol class, this property is modulated by molecular modifications that have occurred during evolution. The role of sterols in rafts, antibiotic complexes, and in protecting membranes from the destructive action of amphipathic toxins is also discussed.

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