Cellular and Molecular Life Sciences

, Volume 75, Issue 11, pp 1909–1927 | Cite as

Lipids in the cell: organisation regulates function

  • Ana L. Santos
  • Giulio PretaEmail author


Lipids are fundamental building blocks of all cells and play important roles in the pathogenesis of different diseases, including inflammation, autoimmune disease, cancer, and neurodegeneration. The lipid composition of different organelles can vary substantially from cell to cell, but increasing evidence demonstrates that lipids become organised specifically in each compartment, and this organisation is essential for regulating cell function. For example, lipid microdomains in the plasma membrane, known as lipid rafts, are platforms for concentrating protein receptors and can influence intra-cellular signalling. Lipid organisation is tightly regulated and can be observed across different model organisms, including bacteria, yeast, Drosophila, and Caenorhabditis elegans, suggesting that lipid organisation is evolutionarily conserved. In this review, we summarise the importance and function of specific lipid domains in main cellular organelles and discuss recent advances that investigate how these specific and highly regulated structures contribute to diverse biological processes.


Lipid rafts Raft-like microdomains Oxidative stress Cell signalling Lipophagy 



Adenosine triphosphate




Cytidine diphosphate-diacylglycerol




Chaperone-mediated autophagy


Endoplasmic reticulum


Fluorescence correlation spectroscopy


Functional membrane microdomains


Förster resonance energy transfer


Reduced glutathione


Oxidised glutathione


Glutathione peroxidase


Heat shock protein 70


Lipid droplets




Mammalian target of rapamycin


Oxidised nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide phosphate


Reduced nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide phosphate


Nitric oxide


Nitric oxide synthase


Phosphatidic acid












Phosphatidylinositol-specific phospholipase C


Phospholipid exchange protein


Phospholipid transfer protein


Cellular prion protein




Reactive oxygen species




Sterol carrier protein


Superoxide dismutase






Tumour necrosis factor receptor 1


Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

I am unaware of any potential conflict of interest, including professional or financial affiliations that might be perceived as biasing the manuscript.


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© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institut National de la Santé et de la Recherche Médicale, U1001 and Faculté de MédecineUniversité Paris DescartesParisFrance
  2. 2.Institute of BiochemistryVilnius UniversityVilniusLithuania

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