In mammalian cells, phospholipids are asymmetrically distributed between the outer and inner leaflets of the plasma membrane. The maintenance of asymmetric phospholipid distribution has been demonstrated to be required for a wide range of cellular functions including cell division, cell migration, and signal transduction. However, we recently reported that asymmetric phospholipid distribution is disrupted in Drosophila cell membranes, and this unique phospholipid distribution leads to the formation of highly deformable cell membranes. In addition, it has become clear that asymmetry in the trans-bilayer distribution of phospholipids is disturbed even in living mammalian cells under certain circumstances. In this article, we introduce our recent studies while focusing on the trans-bilayer distribution of phospholipids, and discuss the cellular functions of (a)symmetric biological membranes.

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