Lipid rafts and plasma membrane microorganization: insights from Ras

Trends Cell Biol. 2004 Mar;14(3):141-7. doi: 10.1016/j.tcb.2004.02.001.


The spatial organization of plasma membrane components in discrete microdomains is thought to be a key factor in the generation of distinct signal outputs. A detailed characterization of plasma membrane microdomains, including descriptions of their size, dynamics and abundance, has proved to be a taxing problem for cell biologists and biophysicists. The use of novel techniques is providing exciting new insights into the challenging problem of plasma membrane microstructure and has allowed the visualization of domains with the characteristics expected of lipid rafts - microdomains of the plasma membrane enriched in cholesterol and sphingolipids. This review focuses on some of these recent advances and uses Ras signaling as a paradigm for understanding inner plasma membrane organization and the role of lipid rafts in cellular function.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Membrane / physiology*
  • Cell Membrane / ultrastructure
  • Membrane Lipids / metabolism
  • Membrane Microdomains / chemistry
  • Membrane Microdomains / physiology*
  • Models, Biological
  • ras Proteins / metabolism*


  • Membrane Lipids
  • ras Proteins