Cellular membranes are a heterogeneous mix of lipids, proteins and small molecules. Special groupings enriched in saturated lipids and cholesterol form liquid-ordered domains, known as "lipid rafts," thought to serve as platforms for signaling, trafficking and material transport throughout the secretory pathway. Questions remain as to how the cell maintains small fluid lipid domains, through time, on a length scale consistent with the fact that no large-scale phase separation is observed. Motivated by these examples, we have utilized a combination of mechanical modeling and in vitro experiments to show that membrane morphology plays a key role in maintaining small domain sizes and organizing domains in a model membrane. We demonstrate that lipid domains can adopt a flat or dimpled morphology, where the latter facilitates a repulsive interaction that slows coalescence and helps regulate domain size and tends to laterally organize domains in the membrane.
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