Annexins: from structure to function

Physiol Rev. 2002 Apr;82(2):331-71. doi: 10.1152/physrev.00030.2001.


Annexins are Ca2+ and phospholipid binding proteins forming an evolutionary conserved multigene family with members of the family being expressed throughout animal and plant kingdoms. Structurally, annexins are characterized by a highly alpha-helical and tightly packed protein core domain considered to represent a Ca2+-regulated membrane binding module. Many of the annexin cores have been crystallized, and their molecular structures reveal interesting features that include the architecture of the annexin-type Ca2+ binding sites and a central hydrophilic pore proposed to function as a Ca2+ channel. In addition to the conserved core, all annexins contain a second principal domain. This domain, which NH2-terminally precedes the core, is unique for a given member of the family and most likely specifies individual annexin properties in vivo. Cellular and animal knock-out models as well as dominant-negative mutants have recently been established for a number of annexins, and the effects of such manipulations are strikingly different for different members of the family. At least for some annexins, it appears that they participate in the regulation of membrane organization and membrane traffic and the regulation of ion (Ca2+) currents across membranes or Ca2+ concentrations within cells. Although annexins lack signal sequences for secretion, some members of the family have also been identified extracellularly where they can act as receptors for serum proteases on the endothelium as well as inhibitors of neutrophil migration and blood coagulation. Finally, deregulations in annexin expression and activity have been correlated with human diseases, e.g., in acute promyelocytic leukemia and the antiphospholipid antibody syndrome, and the term annexinopathies has been coined.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Annexins* / chemistry
  • Annexins* / genetics
  • Annexins* / metabolism
  • Calcium / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Structure-Activity Relationship


  • Annexins
  • Calcium