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Bioessays. 2010 Jun;32(6):496-504. doi: 10.1002/bies.200900172.

Clathrin-mediated endocytosis: what works for small, also works for big.

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  • 1Département de Biologie Cellulaire et Infection, Institut Pasteur, Unité des Interactions Bactéries-Cellules, Paris, France.


Clathrin and the endocytosis machinery has recently been described as being required in mammalian cells for the internalization of large particles including pathogenic bacteria, fungi, and large viruses. These apparently unexpected observations, within the framework of the classical mechanisms for the formation of clathrin-coated vesicles, are now considered as examples of a new non-classical function of clathrin, which can promote the internalization of membrane domains associated to planar clathrin lattices. The role of actin downstream of clathrin seems to be critical for this still poorly characterized process. The historical frontier between endocytosis and phagocytosis is vanishing in the light of this new role for clathrin.

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