Lipid rafts are dynamic assemblies of glycosphingolipids, sphingomyelin, cholesterol, and specific proteins which are stabilized into platforms involved in the regulation of vital cellular processes. The rafts at the cell surface play important functions in signal transduction. Recent reports have demonstrated that lipid rafts are spatially and compositionally heterogeneous in the single-cell membrane. In this review, we summarize our recent data on living platelets using two specific probes of raft components: lysenin as a probe of sphingomyelin-rich rafts and BCθ as a probe of cholesterol-rich rafts. Sphingomyelin-rich rafts that are spatially and functionally distinct from the cholesterol-rich rafts were found at spreading platelets. Fibrin is translocated to sphingomyelin-rich rafts and platelet sphingomyelin-rich rafts act as platforms where extracellular fibrin and intracellular actomyosin join to promote clot retraction. On the other hand, the collagen receptor glycoprotein VI is known to be translocated to cholesterol-rich rafts during platelet adhesion to collagen. Furthermore, the functional roles of platelet glycosphingolipids and platelet raft-binding proteins including G protein-coupled receptors, stomatin, prohibitin, flotillin, and HflK/C-domain protein family, tetraspanin family, and calcium channels are discussed.
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