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Crit Rev Biochem Mol Biol. 2011 Apr;46(2):89-117. doi: 10.3109/10409238.2010.538664. Epub 2011 Jan 31.

Function of the phosphatidylinositol transfer protein gene family: is phosphatidylinositol transfer the mechanism of action?

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Department of Neuroscience, Pharmacology and Physiology, University College London, UK.


Phosphatidylinositol transfer proteins (PITPs) bind and facilitate the transport of phosphatidylinositol (PI) and phosphatidylcholine between membrane compartments. They are highly conserved proteins, are found in both unicellular and multicellular organisms, and can be present as a single domain or as part of a larger, multi-domain protein. The hallmark of PITP proteins is their ability to sequester PI in their hydrophobic pocket. Ablation or knockdown of specific isoforms in vivo has wide ranging effects such as defects in signal transduction via phospholipase C and phosphoinositide 3-kinase, membrane trafficking, stem cell viability, Drosophila phototransduction, neurite outgrowth, and cytokinesis. In this review, we identify the common mechanism underlying each of these phenotypes as the cooperation between PITP proteins and lipid kinases through the provision of PI for phosphorylation. We propose that recruitment and concentration of PITP proteins at specific membrane sites are required for PITP proteins to execute their function rather than lipid transfer.

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