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Biochem Soc Trans. 2006 Jun;34(Pt 3):389-91.

The OSBP-related proteins (ORPs): global sterol sensors for co-ordination of cellular lipid metabolism, membrane trafficking and signalling processes?

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  • 1Department of Molecular Medicine, National Public Health Institute, Biomedicum, Helsinki, Finland.


Protein families related to OSBP (oxysterol-binding protein) are present in eukaryotes from yeast to human. The functions of the ORPs (OSBP-related proteins) have remained largely enigmatic. Even though they have been implicated in the function of ERJs (endoplasmic reticulum junctions), it is evident that any single model for their mechanism of action is insufficient. The existing evidence points in many different directions, such as integration of sterol and sphingomyelin metabolism, regulation of neutral lipid metabolism, control of signalling cascades, regulation of secretory vesicle generation, and function in the microtubule-based motility of endo/lysosomes. Some of these functions could involve ERJ and non-vesicular transport of lipids, but this is unlikely to be the unifying feature. We believe, rather, that the common denominator for ORP function is acting as sterol sensors that relay information to a spectrum of cellular processes.

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