Biophysical properties of lipids and dynamic membranes

Trends Cell Biol. 2006 Oct;16(10):538-46. doi: 10.1016/j.tcb.2006.08.009. Epub 2006 Sep 8.


The lipid bilayer is a 3D assembly with a rich variety of physical features that modulate cell signaling and protein function. Lateral and transverse forces within the membrane are significant and change rapidly as the membrane is bent or stretched and as new constituents are added, removed or chemically modified. Recent studies have revealed how differences in structure between the two leaflets of the bilayer and between different areas of the bilayer can interact together with membrane deformation to alter the activities of transmembrane channels and peripheral membrane binding proteins. Here, we highlight some recent reports that the physical properties of the membrane can help control the function of transmembrane proteins and the motor-dependent elongation of internal organelles, such as the endoplasmic reticulum.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Membrane / physiology*
  • Cell Membrane / ultrastructure*
  • Elasticity
  • Humans
  • Lipid Bilayers / chemistry
  • Lipid Bilayers / metabolism
  • Membrane Lipids / chemistry
  • Membrane Lipids / physiology*
  • Membrane Proteins / physiology
  • Viscosity


  • Lipid Bilayers
  • Membrane Lipids
  • Membrane Proteins