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Biochim Biophys Acta. 1998 Nov 10;1376(3):467-79.

The differential miscibility of lipids as the basis for the formation of functional membrane rafts.

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European Molecular Biology Laboratory, Cell Biology Programme, Meyerhofstrasse 1, 69117 Heidelberg, Germany.


The formation of sphingolipid-cholesterol microdomains in cellular membranes has been proposed to function in sorting and transport of lipids and proteins as well as in signal transduction. An increasing number of cell biological and biochemical studies now supports this concept. Here we discuss the structural properties of lipids in a cell biological context. The sphingolipid-cholesterol microdomains or rafts are described as dispersed liquid ordered phase domains. These domains are dynamic assemblies to which specific proteins are selectively sequestered while others are excluded. The proteins associated to rafts can act as organizers and can modulate raft size and function.

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