Clusters, rafts, nanodomains, and patches are names frequently used to depict cell membranes. This wide vocabulary emphasizes the heterogeneous organization of membrane constituents, which is essential for cellular functions such as signalling, trafficking and adhesion. Despite their diversity, cell membrane domains might share similar physical grounds. In an attempt to integrate them in a general framework, we review here recent studies on domains in adhering and non-adhering membranes. We show that a broad range of biological studies challenged the concepts of membrane physics at thermodynamic equilibrium and enriched the classical physical-chemistry approaches on model systems.
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