Lipids and proteins are the main components of cell membranes. It is becoming increasingly clear that lipids, in addition to providing an environment for proteins to work in, are in many cases also able to modulate the structure and function of those proteins. Particularly charged lipids such as phosphatidylinositols and phosphatidylserines are involved in several examples of such effects. Molecular dynamics simulations have proved an invaluable tool in exploring these aspects. This so-called computational microscope can provide both complementing explanations for the experimental results and guide experiments to fruitful directions. In this paper, we review studies that have utilized molecular dynamics simulations to unravel the roles of charged lipids in membrane structures. We focus on lipids as active constituents of the membranes, affecting both general membrane properties as well as non-lipid membrane components, mainly proteins. This article is part of a Special Issue entitled: Biosimulations edited by Ilpo Vattulainen and Tomasz Róg.
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