Monday, May 27, 2013

The physics of membrane tubes: soft templates for studying cellular membranes

Aurélien Roux

Lipid membranes under shear or under pulling forces generate surprising cylindrical structures called membrane tubes. Their size varies between a few hundreds of nanometers to a few tens of nanometers. These structures can be formed by multiple ways, and are a clear signature of membrane fluidity and elasticity. Moreover, in vivo, many tubular structures are formed during intracellular transport to exchange material between compartments. The basic principles of their formation are the same than in vitro. Recent studies on the specific physico-chemical properties of membrane involved in membrane tubes shed light onto how similar structures are formed in vivo. As well, in vitro controlled formation of such membrane tubes turned out to be an elegant way to study in vitro many dynamic processes happening in membrane traffic.

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