Endocytic traffic in polarized epithelial cells: role of the actin and microtubule cytoskeleton

Traffic. 2001 Mar;2(3):149-59. doi: 10.1034/j.1600-0854.2001.020301.x.


The cytoskeleton is required for multiple cellular events including endocytosis and the transfer of cargo within the endocytic system. Polarized epithelial cells are capable of endocytosis at either of their distinct apical or basolateral plasma membrane domains. Actin plays a role in internalization at both cell surfaces. Microtubules and actin are required for efficient transcytosis and delivery of proteins to late endosomes and lysosomes. Microtubules are also important in apical recycling pathways and, in some polarized cell types, basolateral recycling requires actin. The microtubule motor proteins dynein and kinesin and the class I unconventional myosin motors play a role in many of these trafficking steps. This review examines the endocytic pathways of polarized epithelial cells and focuses on the emerging roles of the actin cytoskeleton in these processes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Actins / physiology*
  • Animals
  • Cell Membrane / physiology
  • Cell Polarity
  • Cytoskeleton / physiology*
  • Endocytosis / physiology*
  • Endosomes / physiology
  • Epithelial Cells / cytology
  • Epithelial Cells / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Lysosomes / physiology
  • Microtubules / physiology*


  • Actins