Multivesicular bodies: a mechanism to package lytic and storage functions in one organelle?

Trends Cell Biol. 2002 Aug;12(8):362-7. doi: 10.1016/s0962-8924(02)02322-x.


Multivesicular bodies (MVBs) are endosomes or prevacuolar compartments. The lumens of their internal vesicles are thought to be topologically equivalent to cytoplasm and their membranes direct proteins and lipids for degradation. Here, we describe a new MVB function; in certain plant MVBs, the internal vesicles contain lytic enzymes and the surrounding 'soup' is a storage compartment. Separate vesicular pathways deliver proteins to the storage and lytic compartments. Recent data indicate that mammalian secretory lysosomes also have two compartments served by separate vesicular pathways. The formation of separate storage and lytic compartments within MVBs poses problems for membrane organization and topology that have not previously been considered in the literature. We offer a hypothetical model to address these problems.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Endocytosis
  • Endosomes / chemistry
  • Endosomes / physiology*
  • Lysosomes / chemistry
  • Lysosomes / metabolism
  • Lysosomes / physiology
  • Membrane Fusion / physiology
  • Models, Biological*
  • Phosphatidylinositol Phosphates / metabolism
  • Protein Transport / physiology
  • Transport Vesicles / physiology


  • Phosphatidylinositol Phosphates
  • phosphatidylinositol 3-phosphate