Membrane Lipid Polymorphism Academic Article uri icon

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abstract

  • Bilayers are the most familiar arrangement of phospholipids. However, even as bilayers, phospholipids can arrange themselves in a variety of morphologies from essentially flat structures found in large liposomes or when adhered to a flat solid support, to the curved structures found in small liposomes or as bicontinuous cubic phases. Phospholipids can also arrange themselves as curved monolayers, such as in the hexagonal phase, and they can even form spherical or ellipsoid-shaped micelles. A number of factors will determine the final morphology of a lipid aggregate including the structure of the lipid, the nature of the lipid headgroup and its degree of hydration, and the temperature. In addition to being interesting in its own right, the property of lipid polymorphism can be applied to understand how fundamental intrinsic curvature properties of a membrane alter the physical properties of a membrane bilayer. This, in turn, will affect the functional characteristics of membrane proteins, with several possible mechanisms explaining the coupling of membrane properties with protein function.

publication date

  • 2007