Role of mitochondrial raft-like microdomains in the regulation of cell apoptosis

Tina Garofalo, Valeria Manganelli, Maria Grasso, Vincenzo Mattei, Alberto Ferri, Roberta Misasi, Maurizio Sorice

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Lipid rafts are envisaged as lateral assemblies of specific lipids and proteins that dissociate and associate rapidly and form functional clusters in cell membranes. These structural platforms are not confined to the plasma membrane; indeed lipid microdomains are similarly formed at subcellular organelles, which include endoplasmic reticulum, Golgi and mitochondria, named raft-like microdomains. In addition, some components of raft-like microdomains are present within ER-mitochondria associated membranes. This review is focused on the role of mitochondrial raft-like microdomains in the regulation of cell apoptosis, since these microdomains may represent preferential sites where key reactions take place, regulating mitochondria hyperpolarization, fission-associated changes, megapore formation and release of apoptogenic factors. These structural platforms appear to modulate cytoplasmic pathways switching cell fate towards cell survival or death. Main insights on this issue derive from some pathological conditions in which alterations of microdomains structure or function can lead to severe alterations of cell activity and life span. In the light of the role played by raft-like microdomains to integrate apoptotic signals and in regulating mitochondrial dynamics, it is conceivable that these membrane structures may play a role in the mitochondrial alterations observed in some of the most common human neurodegenerative diseases, such as Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Huntington's chorea and prion-related diseases. These findings introduce an additional task for identifying new molecular target(s) of pharmacological agents in these pathologies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)621-634
Number of pages14
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Mar 30 2015


  • Apoptosis
  • GD3
  • Lipid rafts
  • Microdomains
  • Mitochondria

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cell Biology
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Biochemistry, medical
  • Cancer Research
  • Pharmaceutical Science
  • Pharmacology
  • Medicine(all)


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