Ligands, their receptors and … plasma membranes

Georges Vauquelin, Ann Packeu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

69 Citations (Scopus)


Ligand-receptor interactions are customarily described by equations that apply to solutes. Yet, most receptors are present in cell membranes so that sufficiently lipophilic ligands could reach the receptor by a two-dimensional approach within the membrane. As summarized in this review, this may affect the ligand-receptor interaction in many ways. Biophysicians calculated that, compared to a three-dimensional approach from the liquid phase, such approach could alter the time the ligands need to find a receptor. Biochemists found that ligand incorporation in lipid bilayers modifies their conformation. This, along with the depth at which the ligands reside in the bilayer, will affect the probability of successful receptor interaction. Novel mechanisms were also introduced, including "exosite" binding and ligand translocation between the receptor's ?-helical transmembrane domains. Pharmacologists focused attention at ligand concentrations in membrane, their adsorption and release rates and the effects thereof on ligand potency and residence time at the receptor.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-10
Number of pages10
JournalMolecular and Cellular Endocrinology
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - 13 Nov 2009


  • Ligands
  • Receptors
  • Plasma membranes
  • Partitioning
  • Diffusion
  • Binding kinetics
  • Affinity
  • Conformation
  • Residence time
  • Exosites


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