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Trends Biochem Sci. 2003 Mar;28(3):145-51.

Heparan sulfate proteoglycan as a plasma membrane carrier.

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  • 1Department of Immunology, C-204, The Scripps Research Institute, La Jolla, CA 92037, USA.


The plasma membrane defines the border of living cells and provides a barrier to extracellular components. Advances in molecular biology have resulted in the development of novel therapeutic strategies (e.g. gene therapy and cellular protein delivery) which rely on the entry of charged macromolecules into the intracellular compartment. Recent reports demonstrate an intriguing role for heparan sulfate proteoglycans in cellular internalization of viruses, basic peptides and polycation-nucleic-acid complexes and the possibility that they have important implications for gene transfer and protein delivery to mammalian cells. This review focuses on heparan sulfate proteoglycan as a plasma membrane carrier.

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