Protein Trafficking in the Exocytic Pathway of Polarized Epithelial Cells

Trends Cell Biol. 2001 Dec;11(12):483-6. doi: 10.1016/s0962-8924(01)02145-6.


Ten years ago, we knew much about the function of polarized epithelia from the work of physiologists, but, as cell biologists, our understanding of how these cells were constructed was poor. We knew proteins were sorted and targeted to different plasma membrane domains and that, in some cells, the Golgi was the site of sorting, but we did not know the mechanisms involved. Between 1991 and the present, significant advances were made in defining sorting motifs for apical and basal-lateral proteins, describing the sorting machinery in the trans-Golgi network (TGN) and plasma membrane, and in understanding how cells specify delivery of transport vesicles to different membrane domains. The challenge now is to extend this knowledge to defining molecular mechanisms in detail in vitro and comprehending the development of complex epithelial structures in vivo.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Membrane / metabolism
  • Cell Polarity / physiology*
  • Epithelial Cells / metabolism*
  • Exocytosis / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Protein Transport / physiology*
  • Transport Vesicles / metabolism*