Proteins and cholesterol-rich domains
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Biological membranes are composed of many molecular species of lipids and proteins. These molecules do not mix ideally. In the plane of the membrane components are segregated into domains that are enriched in certain lipids and proteins. Cholesterol is a membrane lipid that is not uniformly distributed in the membrane. Proteins play an important role in determining cholesterol distribution. Certain types of protein lipidation are known to cause the lipoprotein to sequester with cholesterol and to stabilize cholesterol-rich domains. However, proteins that are excluded from such domains also contribute to the redistribution of cholesterol. One of the motifs that favor interaction with cholesterol is the CRAC motif. The role of the CRAC motif of the gp41 fusogenic protein of HIV is discussed. The distribution of the multianionic lipid, phosphatidylinositol(4,5)bis-phosphate (PtnIns(4,5)P2), is also not uniform in cell membranes. This lipid has several functions in the cell, including a morphological role in determining the sites of attachment of the actin cytoskeleton to the plasma membrane. PtnIns(4,5)P2 is sequestered by proteins having clusters of cationic residues in their sequence. Certain proteins containing cationic clusters also contain moieties such as myristoylation or a CRAC segment that would also endow them with the ability to sequester to a cholesterol-rich domain. These proteins interact with PtnIns(4,5)P2 in a cholesterol-dependent manner forming domains that are enriched in both cholesterol and in PtnIns(4,5)P2 but can also be distinct from liquid-ordered raft-like domains.
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