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Trends Neurosci. 2002 Aug;25(8):412-7.

Lipid rafts in neuronal signaling and function.

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Department of Molecular Biology and Pharmacology, Campus Box 8103, Washington University School of Medicine, 660 South Euclid Avenue, St Louis, MO 63110, USA.


Lipid rafts are plasma membrane microdomains rich in cholesterol and sphingolipids, which provide a particularly ordered lipid environment. Rafts are enriched in glycosylphosphatidylinositol (GPI)-anchored proteins, as well as proteins involved in signal transduction and intracellular trafficking. In neurons, lipid rafts act as platforms for the signal transduction initiated by several classes of neurotrophic factors, including neurotrophins and glial-derived neurotrophic factor (GDNF)-family ligands. Emerging evidence also indicates that such rafts are important for neuronal cell adhesion, axon guidance and synaptic transmission. Thus, lipid rafts are structurally unique components of plasma membranes, crucial for neural development and function.

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