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Trends Biochem Sci. 2011 Sep;36(9):493-500. doi: 10.1016/j.tibs.2011.06.007. Epub 2011 Aug 18.

Biological membranes: the importance of molecular detail.

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School of Biological Sciences, Life Sciences Building 85, University of Southampton, Southampton, SO17 1BJ, UK.


Are lipid interactions with membrane proteins best described in terms of the physical properties of the lipid bilayer or in terms of direct molecular interactions between particular lipid molecules and particular sites on a protein? A molecular interpretation is more challenging because it requires detailed knowledge of the 3D structure of a membrane protein, but recent studies have suggested that a molecular interpretation is necessary. Here, the idea is explored that lipid molecules modify the ways that transmembrane α-helices pack into bundles, by penetrating between the helices and by binding into clefts between the helices, and that these effects on helix packing will modulate the activity of a membrane protein.

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