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Biochim Biophys Acta. 2006 Dec;1758(12):2139-47. Epub 2006 Aug 8.

Membrane rafts in host-pathogen interactions.

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Children's Hospital, University of Tuebingen, Hoppe-Seyler Str. 1, 72076 Tuebingen, Germany.


Central elements in the infection of mammalian cells with viral, bacterial and parasitic pathogens include the adhesion of the pathogen to surface receptors of the cell, recruitment of additional receptor proteins to the infection-site, a re-organization of the membrane and, in particular, the intracellular signalosome. Internalization of the pathogen results in the formation of a phagosome that is supposed to fuse with lysosomes to form phagolysosomes, which serve the degradation of the pathogen, an event actively prevented by some pathogens. In summary, these changes in the infected cell permit pathogens to trigger apoptosis (for instance of macrophages paralysing the initial immune response), to invade the cell and/or to survive in the cell, but they also serve the mammalian cell to defeat the infection, for instance by activation of transcription factors and the release of cytokines. Distinct membrane domains in the plasma membrane and intracellular vesicles that are mainly composed of sphingolipids and cholesterol or enriched with the sphingolipid ceramide, are critically involved in all of these events occurring during the infection. These membrane structures are therefore very attractive targets for novel drugs to interfere with bacterial, viral and parasitic infections.

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