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J Cell Sci. 2011 May 15;124(Pt 10):1613-22. doi: 10.1242/jcs.073395.

Endocytic adaptors--social networking at the plasma membrane.

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Department of Biology, The Johns Hopkins University, 3400 North Charles Street, Baltimore, MD 21218, USA.


Receptor-mediated endocytosis is a dynamic process that is crucial for maintaining plasma membrane composition and controlling cell-signaling pathways. A variety of entry routes have evolved to ensure that the vast array of molecules on the cell surface can be differentially internalized by endocytosis. This diversity has extended to include a growing list of endocytic adaptor proteins, which are thought to initiate the internalization process. The key function of adaptors is to select the proteins that should be removed from the cell surface. Thus, they have a central role in defining the physiology of a cell. This has made the study of adaptor proteins a very active area of research that is ripe for exciting future discoveries. Here, we review recent work on how adaptors mediate endocytosis and address the following questions: what characteristics define an endocytic adaptor protein? What roles do these proteins fulfill in addition to selecting cargo and how might adaptors function in clathrin-independent endocytic pathways? Through the findings discussed in this Commentary, we hope to stimulate further characterization of known adaptors and expansion of the known repertoire by identification of new adaptors.

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