Vol 44, No 4 (2006)
Original paper
Published online: 2007-01-16

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Protein 4.1, a component of the erythrocyte membrane skeleton and its related homologue proteins forming the protein 4.1/FERM superfamily.

Witold Diakowski, Michał Grzybek, Aleksander F Sikorski
Folia Histochem Cytobiol 2006;44(4):231-248.

Abstract

The review is focused on the domain structure and function of protein 4.1, one of the proteins belonging to the membrane skeleton. The protein 4.1 of the red blood cells (4.1R) is a multifunctional protein that localizes to the membrane skeleton and stabilizes erythrocyte shape and membrane mechanical properties, such as deformability and stability, via lateral interactions with spectrin, actin, glycophorin C and protein p55. Protein 4.1 binding is modulated through the action of kinases and/or calmodulin-Ca2+. Non-erythroid cells express the 4.1R homologues: 4.1G (general type), 4.1B (brain type), and 4.1N (neuron type), and the whole group belongs to the protein 4.1 superfamily, which is characterized by the presence of a highly conserved FERM domain at the N-terminus of the molecule. Proteins 4.1R, 4.1G, 4.1N and 4.1B are encoded by different genes. Most of the 4.1 superfamily proteins also contain an actin-binding domain. To date, more than 40 members have been identified. They can be divided into five groups: protein 4.1 molecules, ERM proteins, talin-related molecules, protein tyrosine phosphatase (PTPH) proteins and NBL4 proteins. We have focused our attention on the main, well known representatives of 4.1 superfamily and tried to choose the proteins which are close to 4.1R or which have distinct functions. 4.1 family proteins are not just linkers between the plasma membrane and membrane skeleton; they also play an important role in various processes. Some, such as focal adhesion kinase (FAK), non-receptor tyrosine kinase that localizes to focal adhesions in adherent cells, play the role in cell adhesion. The other members control or take part in tumor suppression, regulation of cell cycle progression, inhibition of cell proliferation, downstream signaling of the glutamate receptors, and establishment of cell polarity; some are also involved in cell proliferation, cell motility, and/or cell-to-cell communication.

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