Molecular dynamics and interactions for creation of stimulation-induced stabilized rafts from small unstable steady-state rafts

Traffic. 2004 Apr;5(4):213-30. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-0854.2004.0178.x.


We have evaluated the sizes and lifetimes of rafts in the plasma membrane from the existing literature, with a special attention paid to their intrinsically broad distributions and the limited time and space scales that are covered by the observation methods used for these studies. Distinguishing the rafts in the steady state (reserve rafts) from those after stimulation or unintentional crosslinking of raft molecules (stabilized receptor-cluster rafts) is critically important. In resting cells, the rafts appear small and unstable, and the consensus now is that their sizes are smaller than the optical diffraction limit (250 nm). Upon stimulation, the raft-preferring receptors are clustered, inducing larger, stabilized rafts, probably by coalescing small, unstable rafts or cholesterol-glycosphingolipid complexes in the receptor clusters. This receptor-cluster-induced conversion of raft types may be caused by suppression of alkyl chain isomerization and the lipid lateral diffusion in the cluster, with the aid of exclusion of cholesterol from the bulk domain and the boundary region of the majority of transmembrane proteins. We critically inspected the possible analogy to the boundary lipid concept. Finally, we propose a hypothesis for the coupling of GPI-anchored receptor signals with lipid-anchored signaling molecules in the inner-leaflet raft.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Membrane / metabolism
  • Cholesterol / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Ligands
  • Membrane Microdomains / metabolism*
  • Membrane Proteins / metabolism*
  • Membranes, Artificial
  • Models, Biological
  • Signal Transduction / physiology


  • Ligands
  • Membrane Proteins
  • Membranes, Artificial
  • Cholesterol