Molecular assemblies and membrane domains in multivesicular endosome dynamics

Exp Cell Res. 2009 May 15;315(9):1567-73. doi: 10.1016/j.yexcr.2008.12.006. Epub 2008 Dec 24.


Along the degradation pathway, endosomes exhibit a characteristic multivesicular organization, resulting from the budding of vesicles into the endosomal lumen. After endocytosis and transport to early endosomes, activated signaling receptors are incorporated into these intralumenal vesicles through the action of the ESCRT machinery, a process that contributes to terminate signaling. Then, the vesicles and their protein cargo are further transported towards lysosomes for degradation. Evidence also shows that intralumenal vesicles can undergo "back-fusion" with the late endosome limiting membrane, a route exploited by some pathogens and presumably followed by proteins and lipids that need to be recycled from within the endosomal lumen. This process depends on the late endosomal lipid lysobisphosphatidic acid and its putative effector Alix/AIP1, and is presumably coupled to the invagination of the endosomal limiting membrane at the molecular level via ESCRT proteins. In this review, we discuss the intra-endosomal transport routes in mammalian cells, and in particular the different mechanisms involved in membrane invagination, vesicle formation and fusion in a space inaccessible to proteins known to control intracellular membrane traffic.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Endocytosis / physiology*
  • Endosomes / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Intracellular Membranes / physiology*
  • Lysosomes / physiology*
  • Protein Transport / physiology
  • Signal Transduction / physiology