Considering that the CD45 gene was cloned and its alternatively spliced forms were already recognised in the mid-1980s, the precise functions of the molecule in vivo have proved remarkably challenging to unravel. Nevertheless, the main outline of how CD45 mediates its effects is now clear. The precise molecular actions of the different CD45 isoforms remain poorly understood, and elucidation of their functions may facilitate novel rationales for therapeutic intervention. Without doubt, CD45 remains an attractive pharmaceutical target in order to achieve immunosuppression, and its targeting might prove to have certain advantages when compared with the alternative strategy of inhibiting the p56lck tyrosine kinase.

Acknowledgements The literature on CD45 is vast and I apologise to those whose work has not been cited due only to restrictions on space. This is a selective review and I have not attempted to cover every aspect of the field. I would like to thank the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council for financial support and my many colleagues, listed as co-authors on our publications, who have worked with me over the years on this fascinating topic.


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