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Mol Immunol. 2007 Jan;44(1-3):73-81. Epub 2006 Aug 1.

Alternative roles for CD59.

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  • 1Complement Biology Group, Department of Medical Biochemistry and Immunology, Henry Wellcome Building, School of Medicine, Cardiff University, Heath Park, Cardiff CF14 4XN, UK.


CD59 was first identified as a regulator of the terminal pathway of complement, which acts by binding to the C8/C9 components of the assembling membrane attack complex (MAC), to inhibit formation of the lytic pore. Structurally, CD59 is a small, highly glycosylated, GPI-linked protein, with a wide expression profile. Functionally, the role of CD59 in complement regulation is well-defined but studies have also shown clear evidence for signalling properties, which are linked to its glycophosphatidyl inositol (GPI) anchor and its location within lipid rafts. Cross-linking of CD59 using specific monoclonal antibodies drives both calcium release and activation of lipid-raft associated signalling molecules such as tyrosine kinases. These observations clearly show that CD59 exhibits roles independent of its function as a complement inhibitor. In this review, we examine the progression of research in this area and explore the alternative functions of CD59 that have recently been defined.

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