FEBS J. 288 (4) 1070-1090 [2021-02-00; online 2020-08-03]
Understanding the broad variety of functions encoded in cellular membranes requires experimental systems mimicking both their biochemical composition and biophysical properties. Here, we review the interplay between membrane components and the physical properties of the plasma membrane worth considering for biomimetic studies. Later, we discuss the main advantages and caveats of different model membrane systems. We further expand on how the use of model systems has contributed to the understanding of immune cell signaling, with a specific focus on the immunological synapse. We discuss the similarities of immune synapses observed for innate and adaptive immune cells and focus on the physical principles underlying these similarities.