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Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2009 Jan;1152:18-29. doi: 10.1111/j.1749-6632.2008.04004.x.

Apical plasma membrane traffic in superficial cells of bladder urothelium.

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  • 1Institute of Cell Biology, Faculty of Medicine, University of Ljubljana, Ljubljana, Slovenia.


Superficial urothelial cells that line the urinary bladder accommodate cyclical changes in organ volume while maintaining a permeability barrier between urine and tissue fluids. The specific apical plasma membrane traffic is necessary for their proper function. The composition of the apical plasma membrane is dramatically modified during differentiation of bladder urothelial cells, most notably by assembly of urothelial plaques containing uroplakins. However, the assembly of uroplakins into plaques, their insertion and removal from the apical surface, and the regulation of these processes are still poorly understood. This review examines the traffic (exocytosis/endocytosis) of the apical plasma membrane during differentiation of urothelial cells and focuses on the physiological and clinical significance of the apical plasma membrane traffic in bladder superficial urothelial cells.

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