The implications for cells of the lipid switches driven by protein–membrane interactions and the development of membrane lipid therapy

Manuel Torres, Catalina Ana Rosselló, Paula Fernández-García, Victoria Lladó, Or Kakhlon, Pablo Vicente Escribá*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


The cell membrane contains a variety of receptors that interact with signaling molecules. However, agonist–receptor interactions not always activate a signaling cascade. Amphitropic membrane proteins are required for signal propagation upon ligand-induced receptor activation. These proteins localize to the plasma membrane or internal compartments; however, they are only activated by ligand-receptor complexes when both come into physical contact in membranes. These interactions enable signal propagation. Thus, signals may not propagate into the cell if peripheral proteins do not co-localize with receptors even in the presence of messengers. As the translocation of an amphitropic protein greatly depends on the membrane’s lipid composition, regulation of the lipid bilayer emerges as a novel therapeutic strategy. Some of the signals controlled by proteins non-permanently bound to membranes produce dramatic changes in the cell’s physiology. Indeed, changes in membrane lipids induce translocation of dozens of peripheral signaling proteins from or to the plasma membrane, which controls how cells behave. We called these changes “lipid switches”, as they alter the cell’s status (e.g., proliferation, differentiation, death, etc.) in response to the modulation of membrane lipids. Indeed, this discovery enables therapeutic interventions that modify the bilayer’s lipids, an approach known as membrane-lipid therapy (MLT) or melitherapy.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number2322
JournalInternational Journal of Molecular Sciences
Issue number7
StatePublished - 1 Apr 2020
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.


  • Lipid bilayer
  • Melitherapy
  • Membrane lipid switch
  • Peripheral amphitropic non-permanently bound membrane proteins
  • Protein-Membrane interactions


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