Genetic and biochemical analysis of non-vesicular lipid traffic

Annu Rev Biochem. 2009;78:827-56. doi: 10.1146/annurev.biochem.78.081307.112144.


Robust lipid traffic within and among membranes is essential for cell growth and membrane biogenesis. Many of these transport reactions occur by nonvesicular pathways, and the genetic and biochemical details of these processes are now beginning to emerge. Intramembrane lipid transport reactions utilize P-type ATPases, ABC transporters, scramblases, and Niemann-Pick type C (NPC) family proteins. The intramembrane processes regulate the establishment and elimination of membrane lipid asymmetry, the cellular influx and efflux of sterols and phospholipids, and the egress of lysosomally deposited lipids. The intermembrane lipid transport processes play important roles in membrane biogenesis, sterol sequestration, and steroid hormone formation. The roles of soluble lipid carriers and membrane-bound lipid-transporting complexes, as well as the mechanisms for regulation of their targeting and assembly, are now becoming apparent. Elucidation of the details of these systems is providing new perspectives on the regulation of lipid traffic within cells.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biological Transport*
  • Carrier Proteins / chemistry
  • Carrier Proteins / genetics*
  • Carrier Proteins / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Lipid Metabolism*
  • Lipids / chemistry
  • Signal Transduction


  • Carrier Proteins
  • Lipids