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Annu Rev Immunol. 2003;21:457-81. Epub 2001 Dec 19.

Location is everything: lipid rafts and immune cell signaling.

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Laboratory of Immunogenetics, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health, Rockville, Maryland 20852, USA.


The cells of both the adaptive and innate immune systems express a dizzying array of receptors that transduce and integrate an enormous amount of information about the environment that allows the cells to mount effective immune responses. Over the past several years, significant advances have been made in elucidating the molecular details of signal cascades initiated by the engagement of immune cell receptors by their ligands. Recent evidence indicates that immune receptors and components of their signaling cascades are spatially organized and that this spatial organization plays a central role in the initiation and regulation of signaling. A key organizing element for signaling receptors appears to be cholesterol- and sphingolipid-rich plasma membrane microdomains termed lipid rafts. Research into the molecular basis of the spatial segregation and organization of signaling receptors provided by rafts is adding fundamentally to our understanding of the initiation and prolongation of signals in the immune system.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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