The subapical compartment and its role in intracellular trafficking and cell polarity

J Cell Physiol. 2000 Aug;184(2):151-60. doi: 10.1002/1097-4652(200008)184:2<151::AID-JCP2>3.0.CO;2-R.


In polarized epithelial cells and hepatocytes, apical and basolateral plasma membrane surfaces are maintained, each displaying a distinct molecular composition. In recent years, it has become apparent that a subapical compartment, referred to as SAC, plays a prominent if not crucial role in the domain-specific sorting and targeting of proteins and lipids that are in dynamic transit between these plasma membrane domains. Although the molecular identity of the traffic-regulating devices is still obscure, the organization of SAC in distinct subcompartments and/or subdomains may well be instrumental to such functions. In this review, we will focus on the potential subcompartmentalization of the SAC in terms of regulation of membrane traffic, on how SAC relates to the endosomal system, and on how this compartment may operate in the context of other intracellular sorting organelles such as the Golgi complex, in generating and maintaining cell polarity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Membrane / physiology*
  • Cell Polarity / physiology*
  • Endocytosis / physiology
  • Endosomes / physiology
  • Golgi Apparatus / physiology
  • Intracellular Membranes / physiology
  • Membrane Lipids / physiology*
  • Membrane Proteins / physiology*
  • Second Messenger Systems / physiology*


  • Membrane Lipids
  • Membrane Proteins