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The Functional Roles of Lipid Rafts in T Cell Activation, Immune Diseases and HIV Infection and Prevention


The first appearance of lipid rafts, or lipid rafts-like structure, was occasionally observed by cryo-electronic microscopy in 1980s as cavity, such as caveolae. However, the fully understanding of lipid raft was attributed by the studies of T cell activation, virus entry/budding, and other membrane events. During the interaction of T cell and antigen presenting cell, a highly organized structure is formed at the interface of the two cells, where cholesterol and sphingolipids are enriched, and form a liquid ordered phase that facilitates the signaling proteins on and off. Lipid rafts are also involved in virus entry and assembly. In this review, we will discuss cholesterol-sphingolipid floating microdomain, the lipid raft as a unique compartment of the plasma membrane, with biological functions that ensure correct intracellular traffic of proteins and lipids, such as protein-protein interactions by concentrating certain proteins in these microdomains, while excluding others. We also discuss the disruption of lipid rafts is related to different diseases and aging, and we especially exploit the lipid rafts as pharmaceutical targets for anti-virus and anti-inflammation, particularly a new approach to control HIV infection for AIDS prevention and protection by inhibition or disruption of lipid rafts.

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Correspondence to Cheng Luo.

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Luo, C., Wang, K., Liu, D. et al. The Functional Roles of Lipid Rafts in T Cell Activation, Immune Diseases and HIV Infection and Prevention. Cell Mol Immunol 5, 1–7 (2008).

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  • lipid raft
  • liquid ordered phase
  • liquid crystal phase
  • cholesterol
  • virus assembly

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