Archivum Immunologiae et Therapiae Experimentalis, 2004, 52, 215

Role of lipid rafts in T cells

Sunil Thomas, Rajeev Kumar S. and Teodor-D. Brumeanu (Department of Microbiology, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York, NY 10029, USA)

Abstract. The plasma membrane of T cells is made up of a combination of phospholipids and proteins organized as glycolipoprotein microdomains termed lipid rafts. The structural assembly of lipid rafts was investigated by various physical and biochemical assays. Depending on the differentiation status of T cells, the lipid rafts seclude various protein receptors instrumental for the early T cell signaling, cytoskeleton reorganization, protein and membrane trafficking, and the entry of infectious organisms into the cells. This review article summarizes recent information on the assembly of lipid rafts in plasma membrane of T cells and their signaling output in mature and thymic precursors towards cell growth and differentiation, and possible modalities by which the function of lipid rafts can be altered by drugs and T cell ligands. The concept of using lipid rafts as a target for pharmaceutical compounds and biological T cell ligands to ultimately alter the T cell function is discussed.

Keywords: lipid rafts; T cells; thymic selection; immune modulation