Strategies for targeting tetraspanin proteins: Potential therapeutic applications in microbial infections

Noha Hassuna, Peter N Monk, Gregory William Moseley, Lynda J Partridge

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48 Citations (Scopus)


The identification of novel targets and strategies for therapy of microbial infections is an area of intensive research due to the failure of conventional vaccines or antibiotics to combat both newly emerging diseases (e.g. viruses such as severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and new influenza strains, and antibiotic-resistant bacteria) and entrenched, pandemic diseases exemplified by HIV. One clear approach to this problem is to target processes of the host organism rather than the microbe. Recent data have indicated that members of the tetraspanin superfamily, proteins with a widespread distribution in eukaryotic organisms and 33 members in humans, may provide such an approach. Tetraspanins traverse the membrane four times, but are distinguished from other four-pass membrane proteins by the presence of conserved charged residues in the transmembrane domains and a defining signature motif in the larger of the two extracellular domains (the EC2). They characteristically form promiscuous associations with one another and with other membrane proteins and lipids to generate a specialized type of microdomain: the tetraspanin-enriched microdomain (TEM). TEMs are integral to the main role of tetraspanins as molecular organizers involved in functions such as membrane trafficking, cell-cell fusion, motility, and signaling. Increasing evidence demonstrates that tetraspanins are used by intracellular pathogens as a...
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)341 - 359
Number of pages19
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2009

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