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Lipid membrane; a novel target for viral and bacterial pathogens.

Hawkes DJ, Mak J

  • Journal Current drug targets

  • Published 08 Jan 2007

  • Volume 7

  • ISSUE 12

  • Pagination 1615-21

  • DOI 10.2174/138945006779025455


Lipid rafts are defined as specialized, dynamic microdomains that can be found in plasma membrane, and they are enriched with cholesterol and sphingolipids. Since lipid rafts' first debut in the mid 1990's, their existence, function and biological relevance have been a subject of intense scrutiny within the scientific community. Throughout this debate, we have learned a great deal regarding how cargos (both pathogens and cellular factors) are transported into and out of the cell through raft-dependent or raft-independent pathways. It is now apparent that a number of toxins, bacterial-, and viral-pathogens are able to exploit cholesterol and/or lipid rafts to gain a foot hold in their target hosts. The objective of this review is to describe our current appreciation on how selected pathogens utilise cholesterol and/or lipid rafts to support their propagation and to speculate on how some of these observations can be explored for the development of novel strategies that target plasma membrane lipids to control the spread of these viral- and bacterial-pathogens.