Vesicular trafficking: molecular tools and targets

Methods Mol Biol. 2008;440:3-14. doi: 10.1007/978-1-59745-178-9_1.


Intracellular trafficking of membrane-coated vesicles represents a fundamental process that controls the architecture of different intracellular compartments and communication between the cell and its environment. Major trafficking pathways consist of an inward flux of endocytic vesicles from the plasma membrane and an outward flux of exocytic vesicles to the plasma membrane. This overview describes a number of molecular biology tools commonly used to analyze endocytic and exocytic pathways. The overall emphasis is on major proteins responsible for vesicle formation, recognition, and fusion. These include components of vesicle coats, adaptor complexes, SNARE (soluble N-ethylmaleimide-sensitive factor attachment protein receptor) proteins, and Rab guanosine 5'-triphosphatases (GTPases), which represent attractive targets for genetic manipulation aimed at unraveling mechanisms of endocytosis and exocytosis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biological Assay
  • Biomedical Research* / methods
  • Coated Vesicles / enzymology
  • Coated Vesicles / metabolism*
  • Endocytosis*
  • Exocytosis*
  • Humans
  • Molecular Biology
  • Monomeric GTP-Binding Proteins / metabolism
  • Phenotype
  • Protein Transport
  • Signal Transduction


  • Monomeric GTP-Binding Proteins