Microdomain Organization of the Plasma Membrane in Keratinocytes

Dina Vind-Kezunovic, Robert Gniadecki*
Department of Dermatology, University of Copenhagen, Bispebjerg Bakke 23, 2400 Copenhagen NV, Denmark

© 2009 Vind-Kezunovic and Gniadecki

open-access license: This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Public License (CC-BY 4.0), a copy of which is available at: This license permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

* Address correspondence to this author at the Department of Dermatology, University of Copenhagen, Bispebjerg Hospital, Bispebjerg Bakke 23, 2400 Copenhagen NV, Denmark; Tel: (+45) 35313165; Fax: (+45) 35315050;


Plasma membrane of the keratinocyte is organized in a domain structure comprising the nanoscale areas of the lipid in the liquid ordered state (comparable to lipid rafts) surrounded by the liquid-disordered lipid fraction. In this review we summarize the current state of knowledge on the microdomain organization of the keratinocytes plasma membrane. Application of the fluorescent derivative of cholera toxin B1 subunit cross-links these domains into larger, nanometerscale units in which molecular movement of proteins and lipids is retarded. Microdomain cross-linking is particularly effective in the basal portion of the cell within the focal junctions. Thus, junctional structures can behave as molecular sieves in which the density of microdomains is increased. Since lipid rafts play a role in transmembrane signal transduction (see other articles in this supplementum) these finding can explain the compartmentalization of signaling processes in the membrane. Research has also revealed how the microdomain organization of keratinocytes plasma membrane determines membrane curvature and regulates the formation of exocytotic vesicles and filopodia-like structures. Coalescence of a large number of microdomains into larger subunits can bend the membrane by the force generated on he lipid ordered/lipid disordered interphase. Microdomain composition of the membrane can also add another dimension to the explanation of skin pathology such as epidermal hyperplasia, apoptosis, cell-cell adhesion and disorders of cornification.