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World J Gastroenterol. Feb 14, 2011; 17(6): 681-690
Published online Feb 14, 2011. doi: 10.3748/wjg.v17.i6.681
Multifaceted nature of membrane microdomains in colorectal cancer
Kristina A Jahn, Yingying Su, Filip Braet
Kristina A Jahn, Yingying Su, Filip Braet, Australian Centre for Microscopy and Microanalysis, The University of Sydney, NSW 2006, Australia
Author contributions: Braet F, Jahn KA and Su Y prepared the manuscript for publication; Jahn KA and Su Y carried out the experiments presented under Figure 1; Braet F composed Figure 2.
Supported by The Australian Research Council through Linkage Infrastructure, Equipment and Facilities grants, No. LE0775598; and the ARC/NHMRC FABLS Research Network, No. RN0460002
Correspondence to: Filip Braet, Associate Professor, Australian Centre for Microscopy and Microanalysis, Madsen Building F09, The University of Sydney, NSW 2006, Australia. filip.braet@sydney.edu.au
Telephone: +61-2-93517619 Fax: +61-2-93517682
Received: August 2, 2010
Revised: November 23, 2010
Accepted: November 30, 2010
Published online: February 14, 2011

Membrane microdomains or lipid rafts are known to be highly dynamic and to act as selective signal transduction mediators that facilitate interactions between the cell’s external and internal environments. Lipid rafts play an important mediating role in the biology of cancer: they have been found in almost all existing experimental cancer models, including colorectal cancer (CRC), and play key regulatory roles in cell migration, metastasis, cell survival and tumor progression. This paper explores the current state of knowledge in this field by highlighting some of the pioneering and recent lipid raft studies performed on different CRC cell lines and human tissue samples. From this literature review, it becomes clear that membrane microdomains appear to be implicated in all key intracellular signaling pathways for lipid metabolism, drug resistance, cell adhesion, cell death, cell proliferation and many other processes in CRC. All signal transduction pathways seem to originate directly from those peculiar lipid islands, thereby orchestrating the colon cancer cells’ state and fate. As confirmed by recent animal and preclinical studies in different CRC models, continuing to unravel the structure and function of lipid rafts - including their associated complex signaling pathways - will likely bring us one step closer to better monitoring and treating of colon cancer patients.

Keywords: Actin, Caveolae, Cytoskeleton, Combined imaging, Detergent-resistant membranes, Drug targeting, Electron microscopy, Lipid domains, Membrane rafts, Prognosis, Staging, Tomography, Lipid-mediated therapy