Clathrin-dependent or not: is it still the question?

Traffic. 2002 Jul;3(7):443-51. doi: 10.1034/j.1600-0854.2002.30701.x.


Whether the endocytic uptake of a given molecule is mediated through clathrin-coated pits or not is a classical criterion used to characterize its endocytic pathway(s). Hence, clathrin-dependent endocytosis has been associated with highly selective and efficient uptake, whereas clathrin-independent endocytosis appeared to be confined to bulk uptake of fluid-phase markers. This scholastic view has recently been challenged using newly developed molecular tools that allow for the first time a functional and mechanistic analysis of these less well-characterized clathrin-independent pathways, including caveolar uptake and macropinocytosis. Furthermore, several studies point to a critical role of lateral lipid asymmetry--lipid rafts/microdomains--in membrane sorting. We will discuss the potential role of these structures in endocytosis and the possibility that differential sorting at the plasma membrane predisposes the ensuing intracellular fate of a given molecule as well as its physiological function.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Caveolae / metabolism
  • Clathrin / physiology*
  • Clathrin-Coated Vesicles / physiology
  • Coated Pits, Cell-Membrane / physiology
  • Endocytosis / physiology*
  • Endosomes / physiology
  • Humans
  • Membrane Lipids / physiology
  • Membrane Microdomains / physiology
  • Membrane Proteins / physiology
  • Models, Biological
  • Pinocytosis / physiology


  • Clathrin
  • Membrane Lipids
  • Membrane Proteins