Nature 459, 379-385 (21 May 2009) | doi:10.1038/nature08147; Published online 20 May 2009

Emerging roles for lipids in shaping membrane-protein function

Rob Phillips1, Tristan Ursell1, Paul Wiggins2 & Pierre Sens3


Studies of membrane proteins have revealed a direct link between the lipid environment and the structure and function of some of these proteins. Although some of these effects involve specific chemical interactions between lipids and protein residues, many can be understood in terms of protein-induced perturbations to the membrane shape. The free-energy cost of such perturbations can be estimated quantitatively, and measurements of channel gating in model systems of membrane proteins with their lipid partners are now confirming predictions of simple models.

  1. Department of Applied Physics, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, California 91125, USA.
  2. Whitehead Institute of Biomedical Research, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02142, USA.
  3. UMR Gulliver CNRS-ESPCI, Paris 7083, France.


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