Membrane rafts, due to the presence of several immunoreceptors, signal-transducing kinases and lipids such as ceramides which can act as second messengers, play a crucial role in the cell signaling network which fine-tunes various biological effects. The ability of membrane rafts to segregate receptors provides a mechanism for compartmentalization of signaling molecules in plasma membrane by concentrating some components in membrane rafts and excluding others. Based on these observations, the concept of raft-based therapeutics has recently emerged. Raft-targeting molecules can modulate the lipid-protein rheostat of membrane rafts to treat various diseases, such as cancer, neurological disorders or infectious diseases. In this review, we focus on membrane rafts as “discrete” organizing elements of T lymphocytes plasma membrane and how to reconcile the dynamic nature of membrane rafts with the formation of the immunological synapse. We describe CD4-specific antibodies as prototypical modulators for the disruption of the lipid-protein rheostat in membrane rafts and extend the concept of raft-based therapeutics to other antibodies, sterol- and sphingolipid-modulating drugs, glycerophospholipid analogs, fatty acid modulators, and peptide-derived molecules. This review highlights a novel mode of action of drugs through dietary or therapeutic interventions that target membrane rafts.
Keywords: CD4, antibody, lipid, raft, therapy, cancer, signaling
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