Immune regulation of Rab proteins expression and intracellular transport

J Leukoc Biol. 2012 Jul;92(1):41-50. doi: 10.1189/jlb.0212076. Epub 2012 Apr 10.


Compartmentalization in cells of the immune system, the focus of this review, facilitates the spatiotemporal organization of cellular responses essential for specialized immune functions. In this process of compartment maintenance, Rab proteins are central regulators of protein-mediated transport and fusion of intracellular structures. It is widely believed that the intracellular concentration of proteins that regulate intracellular transport, including Rab proteins, is constitutively mantained. However, there is a growing body of evidence indicating that transcriptional rates of Rab proteins can be modified. This process is especially evident during immune activation and argues that after activation, these cells require higher levels of Rab proteins. The aim of this review is to discuss evidence showing the increasing links between Rab protein expression and intracellular transport, particularly in monocytes and macrophages. We highlight here biological processes in which the expression of Rab GTPases is selectively regulated, leading to the activation of specific intracellular routes. Further, we focus on the immune regulation of intracellular transport after cytokine activation and microbial infection, with an emphasis in mycobacterial infection.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biological Transport, Active / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Immunomodulation*
  • rab GTP-Binding Proteins / metabolism*


  • rab GTP-Binding Proteins