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An Isaac Newton Institute Workshop

Towards a Predictive Biology

Who cares about lipids anyway?

Author: Richard Templer (Imperial)

Abstract

Open any Cell Biology textbook and you will see that the lipid component of the membrane is essentially boring. As far as the Singer and Nicholson model is concerned the lipid bilayer is simply an impermeable, two-dimensional, liquid partitioner of the cellular compartments. The great majority of Cell Biologists therefore believe that lipids play no further role in the inner functioning of the cell, rather that they passively follow the behaviour of the cell’s only truly active components - the proteins, the DNA and its associated machinery. I will present evidence that strongly suggests that this picture is simplistic, and that proteins and lipids interact in a complex way, regulating each others behaviour.