Cellular membranes and lipid-binding domains as attractive targets for drug development

C. G. Sudhahar, R. M. Haney, Y. Xue, Robert V. Stahelin

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


Interdisciplinary research focused on biological membranes has revealed them as signaling and trafficking platforms for processes fundamental to life. Biomembranes harbor receptors, ion channels, lipid domains, lipid signals, and scaffolding complexes, which function to maintain cellular growth, metabolism, and homeostasis. Moreover, abnormalities in lipid metabolism attributed to genetic changes among other causes are often associated with diseases such as cancer, arthritis and diabetes. Thus, there is a need to comprehensively understand molecular events occurring within and on membranes as a means of grasping disease etiology and identifying viable targets for drug development. A rapidly expanding field in the last decade has centered on understanding membrane recruitment of peripheral proteins. This class of proteins reversibly interacts with specific lipids in a spatial and temporal fashion in crucial biological processes. Typically, recruitment of peripheral proteins to the different cellular sites is mediated by one or more modular lipid-binding domains through specific lipid recognition. Structural, computational, and experimental studies of these lipid-binding domains have demonstrated how they specifically recognize their cognate lipids and achieve subcellular localization. However, the mechanisms by which these modular domains and their host proteins are recruited to and interact with various cell membranes often vary drastically due to differences in lipid affinity, specificity, penetration as well as protein-protein and intramolecular interactions. As there is still a paucity of predictive data for peripheral protein function, these enzymes are often rigorously studied to characterize their lipid-dependent properties. This review summarizes recent progress in our understanding of how peripheral proteins are recruited to biomembranes and highlights avenues to exploit in drug development targeted at cellular membranes and/or lipid-binding proteins.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)603-613
Number of pages11
JournalCurrent Drug Targets
Issue number8
StatePublished - 2008


  • Drug targets
  • Electrostatics
  • Lipid binding
  • Lipid metabolism
  • Membrane penetration
  • Peripheral proteins
  • Phosphoinositides

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Drug Discovery
  • Pharmacology
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Molecular Medicine

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Cellular membranes and lipid-binding domains as attractive targets for drug development'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this