Role of membrane traffic in the generation of epithelial cell asymmetry

Nat Cell Biol. 2012 Dec;14(12):1235-43. doi: 10.1038/ncb2635.


Epithelial cells have an apical-basolateral axis of polarity, which is required for epithelial functions including barrier formation, vectorial ion transport and sensory perception. Here we review what is known about the sorting signals, machineries and pathways that maintain this asymmetry, and how polarity proteins interface with membrane-trafficking pathways to generate membrane domains de novo. It is becoming apparent that membrane traffic does not simply reinforce polarity, but is critical for the generation of cortical epithelial cell asymmetry.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Membrane / metabolism*
  • Cell Polarity / genetics
  • Cell Polarity / physiology
  • Epithelial Cells / cytology*
  • Epithelial Cells / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Models, Biological
  • Protein Transport / genetics
  • Protein Transport / physiology*
  • Signal Transduction / genetics
  • Signal Transduction / physiology