Biological membranes are vital, active contributors to cell function. In addition to specific interactions of individual lipid molecules and lateral organization produced by membrane domains, the bulk physicochemical properties of biological membranes broadly regulate protein structure and function. Therefore, these properties must be homeostatically maintained within a narrow range that is compatible with cellular physiology. Although such adaptiveness has been known for decades, recent observations have dramatically expanded its scope by showing the breadth of membrane properties that must be maintained, and revealing the remarkable diversity of biological membranes, both within and between cell types. Cells have developed a broad palette of sense-and-respond machineries to mediate physicochemical membrane homeostasis, and the molecular mechanisms of these are being discovered through combinations of cell biology, biophysical approaches, and computational modeling.
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