The cluster of differentiation (CD) system is commonly used as cell markers in immunophynotyping. Different kinds of cells in the immune system can be identified through the surface CD molecules which associating with the immune function of the cell. There are more than 320 CD unique clusters and subclusters have been identified. Some of the CD molecules serve as receptors or ligands important to the cell through initiating a signal cascade which then alter the behavior of the cell. Some CD proteins do not take part in cell signal process but have other functions such as cell adhesion. Cluster of differentiation 36 (CD36), also known as FAT, SCARB3, GP88, glycoprotein IV (gpIV) and glycoprotein IIIb (gpIIIb), is a member of the CD system as well as the class B scavenger receptor family of cell surface proteins. CD36 can be found on the surface of many cell types in vertebrate animals and it consists of 472 amino acids and is extensively glycosylated. It is an integral membrane protein primarily serving as receptors for thrombospondin and collagen and by the erythrocytes infected with the human malaria parasite. The role of CD36 as a cell surface receptor has been extended to that of a signal transduction molecule.
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