John Libbey Eurotext



The tetraspanins Volume 6, issue 4, Juillet - Août 2000


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Inserm U. 268, hôpital Paul-Brousse, 94807 Villejuif cedex, France.

The tetraspanins are surface glycoproteins of 200 to 300 amino acids, including four predicted transmembrane regions. Although their molecular function is not yet clarified and no physiological ligand could be identified, they are implied in multiple cell surface interactions, suggesting that their function is related to the formation of multimolecular complexes. Although many tetraspanins such as CD9, CD63, CD81 or CD151 were initially discovered on hematopoietic cells, where they could play a signalization role, their distribution and importance largely exceed the hematopoietic system. In the tumours the inverse relation observed between the level of expression and the metastatic potential shows that they could play a key role in this process. In addition, gene inactivation revealed the implication of CD9 in fertilization, and the genetic study of X-linked mental retardation suggests an important role for the tetraspanin Talla1 in the nervous system.