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Physiol Rev. 1996 Jan;76(1):245-97.

Protein trafficking and polarity in kidney epithelium: from cell biology to physiology.

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  • 1Renal Unit, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, USA.


The transepithelial movement of fluids, electrolytes, and larger molecules is achieved by the activity of a host of specialized transporting proteins, including enzymes, receptors, and channels, that are located on either the apical, basal, or lateral plasma membrane domains of epithelial cells. In the kidney as well as in all other organs, this remarkable polarity of epithelial cells depends on the selective insertion of newly synthesized and recycling proteins and lipids into distinct plasma membrane domains and on the maintenance and modulation of these specialized domains once they are established during epithelial development. This review addresses the mechanisms by which epithelial cells control the movement of membrane components within the cell to ensure that they are delivered to the correct target membrane. Among the topics discussed are targeting signals within membrane proteins, the role of the cytoskeleton and the tight junctional barrier in cell polarity, and the requirement for accessory proteins in the targeting process, including GTP-binding proteins, and proteins that are involved in vesicle docking and fusion events. The final part of the review is devoted uniquely to the polarized targeting of functionally defined proteins in various kidney cell types. In concluding, examples of how a breakdown in these trafficking pathways may be related to some disease states are presented.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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