Nature communications

A sub-nanometre view of how membrane curvature and composition modulate lipid packing and protein recruitment.

PMID 25222832


Two parameters of biological membranes, curvature and lipid composition, direct the recruitment of many peripheral proteins to cellular organelles. Although these traits are often studied independently, it is their combination that generates the unique interfacial properties of cellular membranes. Here, we use a combination of in vivo, in vitro and in silico approaches to provide a comprehensive map of how these parameters modulate membrane adhesive properties. The correlation between the membrane partitioning of model amphipathic helices and the distribution of lipid-packing defects in membranes of different shape and composition explains how macroscopic membrane properties modulate protein recruitment by changing the molecular topography of the membrane interfacial region. Furthermore, our results suggest that the range of conditions that can be obtained in a cellular context is remarkably large because lipid composition and curvature have, under most circumstances, cumulative effects.