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This study reveals the lateral organisation of the milk fat globule membrane (MFGM). Using confocal laser scanning microscopy (CLSM) and a lipid soluble molecule, an exogenous phospholipid and two lectins as fluorescent probes we located triacylglycerols in the core of fat globules and investigated the organisation of the polar lipids and glycoproteins of the MFGM, in situ in milk. Lipid rafts corresponding to the lateral segregation of sphingolipids in liquid-ordered phases surrounded by liquid-disordered domains composed by the glycerophospholipids were observed in the MFGM. These lipid rafts which correspond to rigid sphingolipid-rich domains have a circular shape at room temperature. CLSM experiments revealed that glycoproteins and glycolipids are heterogeneously distributed around fat globules and that they are not located in the lipid rafts. The characterisations performed by in depth thin sectioning of fat globules and in dynamic as a function of time revealed chemical and structural heterogeneities in the MFGM. Schematic 3D and 2D representations of the MFGM are proposed and discussed. The physiological and nutritional consequences of the lateral organisation of polar lipids and glycoproteins in the MFGM are discussed but remain to be elucidated.


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