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Biochim Biophys Acta. 2005 Dec 30;1746(3):349-63.

Clathrin-independent endocytosis: new insights into caveolae and non-caveolar lipid raft carriers.

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Institute for Molecular Bioscience, University of Queensland, 4072, Australia.


A number of recent studies have provided new insights into the complexity of the endocytic pathways originating at the plasma membrane of mammalian cells. Many of the molecules involved in clathrin coated pit internalization are now well understood but other pathways are less well defined. Caveolae appear to represent a low capacity but highly regulated pathway in a restricted set of tissues in vivo. A third pathway, which is both clathrin- and caveolae-independent, may constitute a specialized high capacity endocytic pathway for lipids and fluid. The relationship of this pathway, if any, to macropinocytosis or to the endocytic pathways of lower eukaryotes remains an interesting open question. Our understanding of the regulatory mechanisms and molecular components involved in this pathway are at a relatively primitive stage. In this review, we will consider some of the characteristics of different endocytic pathways in high and lower eukaryotes and consider some of the common themes in endocytosis. One theme which becomes apparent from comparison of these pathways is that apparently different pathways can share common molecular machinery and that pathways considered to be distinct actually represent similar basic pathways to which additional levels of regulatory complexity have been added.

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