Caveolae and human disease: functional roles in transcytosis, potocytosis, signalling and cell polarity

Michael P. Lisanti, Philipp E. Scherer, ZhaoLan Tang, Eric Kübler, Anthony J. Koleske, Massimo Sargiacomo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

31 Scopus citations


Caveolae are 50-100 nm invaginations that represent a sub-compartment of the plasma membrane. Recent studies have implicated these membranous structures in: (1) transcytosis of macromolecules (such as LDL and AGEs) across capillary endothelial cells; (2) potocytic uptake of small molecules via GPI-linked receptors coupled with an unknown anion transport protein; (3) certain transmembrane signalling events; and (4) polarized trafficking of GPI-linked proteins in epithelial cells. Biochemical isolation and characterization of these domains reveals the molecular components that could perform these diverse functions: scavenger receptors for oxidized LDL and AGEs, namely CD 36 and RAGE, respectively (transcytosis); plasma membrane porin (potocytosis); heterotrimeric G-proteins and Src-like kinases (signalling); and Rap GTPases (cell polarity). As such, these findings have clear implications for understanding the molecular pathogenesis of several human diseases - including atherosclerosis, diabetic vascular complications, and cancerous cell transformations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)47-58
Number of pages12
JournalSeminars in Developmental Biology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 1995



  • GPI-linked proteins
  • Rap GTPases
  • caveolin
  • plasma membrane porin
  • scavenger receptors

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