Send to

Choose Destination
Chem Phys Lipids. 1986 Jun-Jul;40(2-4):127-44.

Lipid polymorphism and the roles of lipids in membranes.


The reasons for lipid diversity in membranes are not understood. Here we review evidence supporting the proposal that factors related to the polymorphic capabilities of lipids provide a rationale for lipid diversity. In particular, the ability of lipids to adopt different polymorphic phases appears to be related to a generalized shape property, where lipids with a cylindrical geometry preferentially adopt the bilayer phase whereas 'cone' shaped lipids adopt the hexagonal HII phase. Lipid diversity may then be considered to satisfy three demands. The first is obviously a need for bilayer forming lipids to provide the basic permeability barrier, whereas the second concerns a need for non-bilayer lipids and associated structures for fusion and related membrane contact phenomena to proceed. A third, and less obvious demand satisfied by nonbilayer lipids concerns the ability of lipids of different shapes to modulate the order in the hydrocarbon region when constrained to a bilayer organization. These possibilities are summarized in a metamorphic mosaic model of membranes.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Elsevier Science
Loading ...
Support Center