International Journal of Molecular Sciences (Oct 2020)

Membrane Curvature, Trans-Membrane Area Asymmetry, Budding, Fission and Organelle Geometry

  • Alexander A. Mironov,
  • Anna Mironov,
  • Jure Derganc,
  • Galina V. Beznoussenko

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 21, no. 7594
p. 7594


Read online

In biology, the modern scientific fashion is to mostly study proteins. Much less attention is paid to lipids. However, lipids themselves are extremely important for the formation and functioning of cellular membrane organelles. Here, the role of the geometry of the lipid bilayer in regulation of organelle shape is analyzed. It is proposed that during rapid shape transition, the number of lipid heads and their size (i.e., due to the change in lipid head charge) inside lipid leaflets modulates the geometrical properties of organelles, in particular their membrane curvature. Insertion of proteins into a lipid bilayer and the shape of protein trans-membrane domains also affect the trans-membrane asymmetry between surface areas of luminal and cytosol leaflets of the membrane. In the cases where lipid molecules with a specific shape are not predominant, the shape of lipids (cylindrical, conical, or wedge-like) is less important for the regulation of membrane curvature, due to the flexibility of their acyl chains and their high ability to diffuse.