Gangliosides and the Multiscale Modulation of Membrane Structure

Chem Phys Lipids. 2011 Nov;164(8):796-810. doi: 10.1016/j.chemphyslip.2011.09.005. Epub 2011 Sep 19.


Cellular membranes are highly organized structures with multiple and multi-dimensional levels of order where lipid components are active players. The lipid role is especially evident in rafts, where lipid-driven collective interaction dictates the local structure of a membrane. However, lipids play as well other roles in many aspects of membrane mechanics and function. In this review, we would like to re-focus the attention of the readers on the importance of gangliosides in organizing the fine structure of cellular membranes, in lateral and transverse directions. Important biological events are likely to be affected such as the dynamic control of the shape of specialized plasma membrane areas and of the intracellular organelles, the in- and outward budding and fusion of membrane vesicles, the physical and functional coupling of the outer and the inner plasma membrane leaflet, involved in the transduction of signals across the membrane.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Cell Membrane / chemistry*
  • Cell Membrane / ultrastructure
  • Gangliosides / chemistry*
  • Gangliosides / physiology
  • Humans
  • Intracellular Membranes
  • Membrane Fusion


  • Gangliosides