Functional rafts in cell membranes


A new aspect of cell membrane structure is presented, based on the dynamic clustering of sphingolipids and cholesterol to form rafts that move within the fluid bilayer. It is proposed that these rafts function as platforms for the attachment of proteins when membranes are moved around inside the cell and during signal transduction.

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Figure 1: Model for the organization of rafts and caveolae in the plasma membrane.
Figure 2: Two postulated post-Golgi circuits in MDCK cells (a) and fibroblasts (b).


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We thank E. Radeck for preparing the manuscript, and D. Brown, R. Brown, A. Kusumi, A. Helenius, G. van Meer, A. Watts, and members of K.S.'s laboratory for helpful criticism.

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Simons, K., Ikonen, E. Functional rafts in cell membranes. Nature 387, 569–572 (1997).

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