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Mammalian septins in health and disease

Authors Montagna C, Bejerano-Sagie M, Zechmeister J

Received 7 December 2014

Accepted for publication 15 January 2015

Published 25 February 2015 Volume 2015:5 Pages 59—72


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 4

Editor who approved publication: Professor Nikolay Dokholyan

Cristina Montagna,1,2 Michal Bejerano-Sagie,1 Jenna R Zechmeister3

1Department of Genetics, 2Department of Pathology, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Yeshiva University, 3Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology and Women's Health, Montefiore Medical Center, New York, NY, USA

Abstract: Septins embrace a large family of proteins highly conserved among eukaryotic species. They were originally identified in budding yeast in the early 1970s as proteins essential for completion of cytokinesis. In humans, septins comprise a group of 13 genes, most of which are present in several isoform variants, leading to a complex pattern of expression. The biological functions achieved by septins have been extensively investigated in yeast, and while several questions remain unanswered, details on the mechanisms of action and pathways relative to their major role in orchestrating the mitotic process, cell polarity, and diffusion barriers have been elucidated. In mammalian cells, the biological processes in which septins play important roles are emerging as increasingly complex. Septins are found with a broad range of expression in most tissues, and like in yeast, are essential for the successful completion of cytokinesis and for the establishment of cell polarity and diffusion barriers. However, they have also been shown to be important for phagocytosis and migration. Owing to their widespread expression in most mammalian cell subtypes and the plethora of functions to which they have been associated, it is not surprising that septins have been implicated in a large variety of human diseases. This review summarizes the current knowledge of septins' cellular functions and the mechanisms of regulation of their assembly. In addition, we present the broad range of human diseases where septins have been shown to be important for the etiology of the disease, including areas where septins have been recently implemented as biomarkers. Because of the growing evidence supporting the association of septins with novel cellular and biological functions, we expect this intriguing family of cytoskeletal interacting proteins to become coupled with an increasing number of human diseases.

Keywords: septins, cytoskeleton, disease, oncogenes, biomarkers, cancer

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