Membrane fluidity and its roles in the perception of environmental signals

Biochim Biophys Acta. 2004 Nov 3;1666(1-2):142-57. doi: 10.1016/j.bbamem.2004.08.002.


Poikilothermic organisms are exposed to frequent changes in environmental conditions and their survival depends on their ability to acclimate to such changes. Changes in ambient temperature and osmolarity cause fluctuations in the fluidity of cell membranes. Such fluctuations are considered to be critical to the initiation of the regulatory reactions that ultimately lead to acclimation. The mechanisms responsible for the perception of changes in membrane fluidity have not been fully characterized. However, the analysis of genome-wide gene expression using DNA microarrays has provided a powerful new approach to studies of the contribution of membrane fluidity to gene expression and to the identification of environmental sensors. In this review, we focus on the mechanisms that regulate membrane fluidity, on putative sensors that perceive changes in membrane fluidity, and on the subsequent expression of genes that ensures acclimation to a new set of environmental conditions.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Physiological*
  • Membrane Fluidity / physiology*
  • Membrane Proteins / physiology
  • Osmotic Pressure
  • Temperature


  • Membrane Proteins