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Cell Signal. 1998 Jul;10(7):457-63.

Crowded little caves: structure and function of caveolae.

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Department of Molecular Pharmacology, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Bronx, NY 10461, USA.


Caveolae are small vesicular invaginations of the cell membrane. It is within this organelle that cells perform transcytosis, potocytosis and signal transduction. These "little caves" are composed of a mixture of lipids and proteins unlike those found in the plasma membrane proper. The chief structural proteins of caveolae are caveolins. To date, three caveolins (Cav-1, -2 and -3) with unique tissue distributions have been identified. Caveolins form a scaffold onto which many signalling molecules can assemble, to generate pre-assembled signalling complexes. In addition to concentrating these signal transducers within a distinct region of the plasma membrane, caveolin binding may functionally regulate the activation state of caveolae-associated signalling molecules.

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