Organization of glycolipid biosynthetic enzymes in the Golgi complex


Glycolipids play diverse biological roles — from serving as receptors of toxins and growth factors to overseeing molecular recognition at the cell surface. These molecules are composed of a ceramide backbone to which monosaccharide (sugar) molecules are attached. The order in which different sugars are attached to the ceramide backbone is a crucial feature in determining the precise role of a glycolipid. Understanding the machinery that regulates the glycosylation of the ceramide backbone, therefore, is critical to our understanding of the biosynthesis of these important lipids and provides insight into the mechanisms underlying diseases resulting from aberrations of their synthesis. Interestingly, the organization of the glycosylation machinery within the Golgi is linked intimately to the supramolecular organization and dynamics of the Golgi complex itself.

A physicist’s view of the role of lipids in membrane curvature and fission


The definition of lipid rafts has evolved considerably over the past 15 years. They now are recognized as dynamic “nanoscale assemblies of sphingolipids, cholesterol and proteins that can be stabilized into platforms” and no longer viewed as static microdomains. Confusion occurred because of the different methods used to reveal and characterize the lipid rafts and in part because of the unfortunate concomitant revival of membrane physics, which was boosted by the possibility of observing phase separation in giant unilamellar vesicles, or GUVs, with confocal microscopy.

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