Understanding the diversity of membrane lipid composition

Nat Rev Mol Cell Biol. 2018 May;19(5):281-296. doi: 10.1038/nrm.2017.138. Epub 2018 Feb 7.


Cellular membranes are formed from a chemically diverse set of lipids present in various amounts and proportions. A high lipid diversity is universal in eukaryotes and is seen from the scale of a membrane leaflet to that of a whole organism, highlighting its importance and suggesting that membrane lipids fulfil many functions. Indeed, alterations of membrane lipid homeostasis are linked to various diseases. While many of their functions remain unknown, interdisciplinary approaches have begun to reveal novel functions of lipids and their interactions. We are beginning to understand why even small changes in lipid structures and in composition can have profound effects on crucial biological functions.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Membrane / metabolism*
  • Eukaryota / metabolism
  • Homeostasis / physiology
  • Humans
  • Membrane Lipids / metabolism*


  • Membrane Lipids