The ESCRT (endosomal sorting complex required for transport) pathway promotes the final membrane scission step at the end of cytokinesis, assists viral budding and generates multivesicular bodies (MVBs). These seemingly unrelated processes require a topologically similar membrane deformation and scission event that buds membranes/vesicles out of the cytoplasm. The topology of this budding reaction is 'opposite' to reactions that bud endocytic and secretory vesicles into the cytoplasm. Here we summarize recent findings that help to understand how the ESCRT machinery, in particular the ESCRT-III complex, assembles on its target membranes, executes membrane scission and is disassembled by the AAA-ATPase Vps4.
Copyright © 2011 Federation of European Biochemical Societies. Published by Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.