Albumin endocytosis via megalin in astrocytes is caveola- and Dab-1 dependent and is required for the synthesis of the neurotrophic factor oleic acid

J Neurochem. 2009 Oct;111(1):49-60. doi: 10.1111/j.1471-4159.2009.06304.x. Epub 2009 Jul 25.


The synthesis and release of the neurotrophic factor oleic acid requires internalization of albumin into the astrocyte, which is mediated by megalin. In this study, we show that the binding and internalization of albumin involve its interaction with megalin, caveolin-1, caveolin-2 and cavin, but not with clathrin in astrocytes from primary culture. Electron microscopy analyses revealed albumin-gold complexes localized in caveolae, but not in clathrin-coated vesicles. Neither chlorpromazine nor silencing clathrin expression modified albumin uptake. Silencing caveolin-1 strongly reduced the binding and internalization of albumin and the distribution of megalin in the plasma membrane. However, silencing caveolin-2 only decreased albumin internalization, suggesting that caveolin-1 is responsible for megalin recruitment to the caveolae and that caveolin-2 participates in caveolae internalization. In most tissues, the cytosolic adaptor protein disabled (Dab)-2 connects megalin to clathrin, astrocytes lack Dab-2; instead, they express Dab-1, which interacts with caveolin-1 and megalin and is required for albumin internalization. The transcytosis of albumin in astrocytes, including the passage through the endoplasmic reticulum, which is a compulsory step for oleic acid synthesis, was confirmed by electron microscopy analyses. Thus, whereas silencing clathrin did not modify the synthesis and release of oleic acid, the knock-down of caveolin-1, caveolin-2 and Dab-1 strongly reduced the synthesis and release of this neurotrophic factor. In conclusion, caveola-mediated endocytosis of albumin requires megalin and the adaptor protein Dab-1 in cultured astrocytes. Albumin endocytosis may be a key step in brain development because it stimulates the synthesis of oleic acid, which in turn promotes neuronal differentiation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adaptor Proteins, Signal Transducing / genetics
  • Adaptor Proteins, Signal Transducing / metabolism*
  • Albumins / metabolism*
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Animals
  • Astrocytes / drug effects
  • Astrocytes / metabolism*
  • Astrocytes / ultrastructure
  • Caveolae / metabolism*
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Chlorpromazine / pharmacology
  • Chromatography, High Pressure Liquid / methods
  • Dopamine Antagonists / pharmacology
  • Endocytosis / drug effects
  • Endocytosis / physiology*
  • Immunoprecipitation
  • Low Density Lipoprotein Receptor-Related Protein-2 / genetics
  • Low Density Lipoprotein Receptor-Related Protein-2 / metabolism*
  • Microscopy, Electron, Transmission / methods
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins / genetics
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins / metabolism*
  • Oleic Acid / metabolism*
  • Prosencephalon / cytology
  • RNA, Small Interfering / pharmacology
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Transfection / methods
  • Transferrin / metabolism


  • Adaptor Proteins, Signal Transducing
  • Albumins
  • Dab1 protein, rat
  • Dopamine Antagonists
  • Low Density Lipoprotein Receptor-Related Protein-2
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins
  • RNA, Small Interfering
  • Transferrin
  • Oleic Acid
  • Chlorpromazine