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Trends Cell Biol. 2013 Jun;23(6):270-8. doi: 10.1016/j.tcb.2013.01.009. Epub 2013 Mar 13.

Inositol lipid regulation of lipid transfer in specialized membrane domains.

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Section on Molecular Signal Transduction, Program for Developmental Neuroscience, Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD 20892, USA.


The highly dynamic membranous network of eukaryotic cells allows spatial organization of biochemical reactions to suit the complex metabolic needs of the cell. The unique lipid composition of organelle membranes in the face of dynamic membrane activities assumes that lipid gradients are constantly generated and maintained. Important advances have been made in identifying specialized membrane compartments and lipid transfer mechanisms that are critical for generating and maintaining lipid gradients. Remarkably, one class of minor phospholipids--the phosphoinositides--is emerging as important regulators of these processes. Here, we summarize several lines of research that have led to our current understanding of the connection between phosphoinositides and the transport of structural lipids and offer some thoughts on general principles possibly governing these processes.

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