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Membrane Rafts and Caveolae

  1. Candice M Thomas,
  2. Eric J Smart

Published Online: 15 SEP 2008

DOI: 10.1002/9780470015902.a0021022



How to Cite

Thomas, C. M. and Smart, E. J. 2008. Membrane Rafts and Caveolae. eLS. .

Author Information

  1. University of Kentucky, Lexington, Kentucky, USA

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 15 SEP 2008


The plasma membrane does more than serve as a barrier between the contents of the cell and the extracellular space. It is a highly organized structure which contains fatty acids, cholesterol and a variety of proteins and is functionally important in trafficking cellular signals. The concept of organized structures or domains within the plasma membrane has proven invaluable to understanding how the plasma membrane interacts with the surrounding environment. One class of these domains is lipid rafts which have been shown to organize and regulate signalling platforms. Caveolae are a subset of lipid rafts which contain specific proteins and lipids that aid in the regulation of signalling processes differently from other domains. Purification techniques have made it possible to study the biochemistry of lipid rafts and caveolae and to gain a better understanding of their roles in signal transduction.


  • lipid rafts;
  • caveolae;
  • signalling;
  • cholesterol;
  • membranes