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Traffic. 2002 Jul;3(7):443-51.

Clathrin-dependent or not: is it still the question?

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Institut Curie, UMR144 CNRS, Traffic and Signaling Laboratory, 26 rue d'Ulm, 75005 Paris Cedex 05, France.


Whether the endocytic uptake of a given molecule is mediated through clathrin-coated pits or not is a classical criterion used to characterize its endocytic pathway(s). Hence, clathrin-dependent endocytosis has been associated with highly selective and efficient uptake, whereas clathrin-independent endocytosis appeared to be confined to bulk uptake of fluid-phase markers. This scholastic view has recently been challenged using newly developed molecular tools that allow for the first time a functional and mechanistic analysis of these less well-characterized clathrin-independent pathways, including caveolar uptake and macropinocytosis. Furthermore, several studies point to a critical role of lateral lipid asymmetry--lipid rafts/microdomains--in membrane sorting. We will discuss the potential role of these structures in endocytosis and the possibility that differential sorting at the plasma membrane predisposes the ensuing intracellular fate of a given molecule as well as its physiological function.

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