Caveolae, DIGs, and the dynamics of sphingolipid-cholesterol microdomains

Curr Opin Cell Biol. 1997 Aug;9(4):534-42. doi: 10.1016/s0955-0674(97)80030-0.


There is accumulating evidence that lateral assemblies (rafts) of sphingolipids and cholesterol form platforms that serve to support numerous cellular events in membrane traffic and signal transduction. Raft membrane microdomains are thought to function by preferentially associating with specific proteins while excluding others. The basic forces driving raft formation are lipid interactions which are, per se, weak and transient. Sphingolipid rafts should therefore be considered to be dynamic structures in which cholesterol plays an important role as a linker. Caveolins influence these dynamics by forming stabilized raft domains in intracellular membranes as well as at the plasma membrane. Recent data suggest that clustering of raft components could regulate raft dynamics and therefore represents an important feature in the function of these membrane microdomains.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Annexins / physiology
  • Cell Membrane / physiology*
  • Cell Membrane / ultrastructure*
  • Cholesterol / metabolism*
  • Coated Pits, Cell-Membrane / physiology*
  • Detergents
  • Glycolipids / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Intracellular Membranes / physiology*
  • Membrane Lipids / physiology*
  • Membrane Proteins / physiology
  • Models, Biological
  • Models, Structural
  • Signal Transduction
  • Sphingolipids / metabolism*


  • Annexins
  • Detergents
  • Glycolipids
  • Membrane Lipids
  • Membrane Proteins
  • Sphingolipids
  • Cholesterol