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Biochim Biophys Acta. 2005 Dec 30;1746(3):334-48. Epub 2005 Sep 16.

Structure of caveolae.

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Angiogenesis Research Center, Department of Pathology, Dartmouth Medical School, One Medical Center Drive, Lebanon, NH 03756, USA.


The introduction of the electron microscope to the study of the biological materials in the second half of the last century has dramatically expanded our view and understanding of the inner workings of cells by enabling the discovery and study of subcellular organelles. A population of flask-shaped or spherical invaginations of the plasma membrane were described and named plasmalemmal vesicles or caveolae. Until the discovery of caveolin-1 as their first molecular marker in early 1990s, the study of caveolae was the exclusive domain of electron microscopists that demonstrated caveolae at different surface densities in most mammalian cells with few exceptions. Electron microscopy techniques in combination with other approaches have also revealed the structural features of caveolae as well as some of their protein and lipid residents. This review summarizes the data on the structure and components of caveolae and their stomatal diaphragms.

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