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Biochem J. 2005 Jul 15;389(Pt 2):249-57.

A short guided tour through functional and structural features of saposin-like proteins.

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  • 1Research Center for Infectious Diseases, Röntgenring 11, D-97070 Würzburg, Germany.


SAPLIPs (saposin-like proteins) are a diverse family of lipid-interacting proteins that have various and only partly understood, but nevertheless essential, cellular functions. Their existence is conserved in phylogenetically most distant organisms, such as primitive protozoa and mammals. Owing to their remarkable sequence variability, a common mechanism for their actions is not known. Some shared principles beyond their diversity have become evident by analysis of known three-dimensional structures. Whereas lipid interaction is the basis for their functions, the special cellular tasks are often defined by interaction partners other than lipids. Based on recent findings, this review summarizes phylogenetic relations, function and structural features of the members of this family.

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