Emerging role of chemoprotective agents in the dynamic shaping of plasma membrane organization.
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In the context of an organism, epithelial cells by nature are designed to be the defining barrier between self and the outside world. This is especially true for the epithelial cells that form the lining of the digestive tract, which absorb nutrients and serve as a barrier against harmful substances. These cells are constantly bathed by a complex mixture of endogenous (bile acids, mucus, microbial metabolites) and exogenous (food, nutrients, drugs) bioactive compounds. From a cell biology perspective, this type of exposure would directly impact the plasma membrane, which consists of a myriad of complex lipids and proteins. The plasma membrane not only functions as a barrier but also as the medium in which cellular signaling complexes form and function. This property is mediated by the organization of the plasma membrane, which is exquisitely temporally (nanoseconds to minutes) and spatially (nanometers to micrometers) regulated. Since numerous bioactive compounds found in the intestinal lumen can directly interact with lipid membranes, we hypothesize that the dynamic reshaping of plasma membrane organization underlies the chemoprotective effect of select membrane targeted dietary bioactives (MTDBs). This article is part of a Special Issue entitled: Membrane Lipid Therapy: Drugs Targeting Biomembranes edited by Pablo V. Escrib.