Single-spanning transmembrane domains in cell growth and cell-cell interactions: More than meets the eye?

Cell Adh Migr. 2010 Apr-Jun;4(2):313-24. doi: 10.4161/cam.4.2.12430. Epub 2010 Apr 20.


As a whole, integral membrane proteins represent about one third of sequenced genomes, and more than 50% of currently available drugs target membrane proteins, often cell surface receptors. Some membrane protein classes, with a defined number of transmembrane (TM) helices, are receiving much attention because of their great functional and pharmacological importance, such as G protein-coupled receptors possessing 7 TM segments. Although they represent roughly half of all membrane proteins, bitopic proteins (with only 1 TM helix) have so far been less well characterized. Though they include many essential families of receptors, such as adhesion molecules and receptor tyrosine kinases, many of which are excellent targets for biopharmaceuticals (peptides, antibodies, et al.). A growing body of evidence suggests a major role for interactions between TM domains of these receptors in signaling, through homo and heteromeric associations, conformational changes, assembly of signaling platforms, etc. Significantly, mutations within single domains are frequent in human disease, such as cancer or developmental disorders. This review attempts to give an overview of current knowledge about these interactions, from structural data to therapeutic perspectives, focusing on bitopic proteins involved in cell signaling.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Humans
  • Membrane Proteins / chemistry*
  • Membrane Proteins / genetics
  • Membrane Proteins / metabolism*
  • Models, Biological
  • Protein Structure, Secondary
  • Protein Structure, Tertiary
  • Signal Transduction / genetics
  • Signal Transduction / physiology*


  • Membrane Proteins