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Regulation of Ion Channels by Membrane Lipids

  1. Avia Rosenhouse-Dantsker1,
  2. Dolly Mehta2,
  3. Irena Levitan1

Published Online: 1 JAN 2012

DOI: 10.1002/cphy.c110001

Comprehensive Physiology

Comprehensive Physiology

How to Cite

Rosenhouse-Dantsker, A., Mehta, D. and Levitan, I. 2012. Regulation of Ion Channels by Membrane Lipids. Comprehensive Physiology. 2:31–68.

Author Information

  1. 1

    Section of Respiratory, Critical Care and Sleep Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, Illinois

  2. 2

    Department of Pharmacology, University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, Illinois

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 1 JAN 2012


The major membrane lipid regulators of ion channel function include cholesterol, one of the main lipid components of the plasma membranes, phosphoinositides, a group of regulatory phospholipids that constitute a minor component of the membrane lipids but are known to play key roles in regulation of multiple proteins and sphingolipids, particularly sphingosine-1-phosphate, a signaling biolipid that is generated from ceramide and is known to regulate multiple cellular functions. Furthermore, specific effects of all the lipid modulators are highly heterogeneous varying significantly between different types of ion channels, as well as between different cell types. In terms of the mechanisms, three general mechanisms have been shown to underlie lipid regulation of ion channels: specific lipid-protein interactions, changes in the physical properties of the membrane, and facilitating the association of the channel proteins with other regulatory proteins within multiproteins signaling complexes termed membrane rafts. In this article, we present comprehensive analysis of the roles of several lipid modulators, including cholesterol, bile acids, phosphoinositides, and sphingolipids on ion channel function. © 2012 American Physiological Society. Compr Physiol 2:31-68, 2012.