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Issue 1, 2007
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Curvature and spatial organization in biological membranes

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Cellular membranes bend and curve into a multitude of shapes as they perform various functions. These deformations make use of the remarkable material properties of biological membranes inherent in their nature as two-dimensional fluids. The curvature of membranes is controlled by the constituent proteins and lipids, but conversely, curvature itself provides mechanisms for organizing mobile membrane molecules. In this article we survey recent experiments that have uncovered intriguing connections between mechanics and biochemistry at membranes, focusing on the influence of molecular shape on curvature, links between phase separation and curvature, and membrane bending at inter-cellular contacts. We describe the concepts that emerge from these studies, especially the existence of long-range, curvature-mediated mechanisms for spatial organization in membranes, and highlight open areas for future research.

Graphical abstract: Curvature and spatial organization in biological membranes

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Publication details

The article was received on 19 Jun 2006, accepted on 11 Sep 2006 and first published on 05 Oct 2006

Article type: Emerging Area
DOI: 10.1039/B608631D
Citation: Soft Matter, 2007,3, 24-33
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    Curvature and spatial organization in biological membranes

    R. Parthasarathy and J. T. Groves, Soft Matter, 2007, 3, 24
    DOI: 10.1039/B608631D

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