Lipid traffic: floppy drives and a superhighway

Nat Rev Mol Cell Biol. 2005 Mar;6(3):209-20. doi: 10.1038/nrm1591.


Understanding how membrane lipids achieve their non-random distribution in cells is a key challenge in cell biology at present. In addition to being sorted into vesicles that can cross distances of up to one metre, there are other mechanisms that mediate the transport of lipids within a range of a few nanometres. These include transbilayer flip-flop mechanisms and transfer across narrow gaps between the endoplasmic reticulum and other organelles, with the endoplasmic reticulum functioning as a superhighway along which lipids can rapidly diffuse.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Endocytosis / physiology
  • Endoplasmic Reticulum / metabolism*
  • Exocytosis / physiology
  • Lipid Bilayers / metabolism
  • Membrane Lipids / metabolism*
  • Membrane Proteins / metabolism
  • Protein Transport / physiology
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae / physiology


  • Lipid Bilayers
  • Membrane Lipids
  • Membrane Proteins