Intracellular parcel service: current issues in intracellular membrane trafficking

Methods Mol Biol. 2015:1270:1-12. doi: 10.1007/978-1-4939-2309-0_1.


Eukaryotic cells contain a multitude of membrane structures that are connected through a highly dynamic and complex exchange of their constituents. The vibrant instability of these structures challenges the classical view of defined, static compartments that are connected by different types of vesicles. Despite this astonishing complexity, proteins and lipids are accurately transported into the different intracellular membrane systems. Over the past few decades many factors have been identified that either mediate or regulate intracellular membrane trafficking. Like in a modern parcel sorting system of a logistics center, the cargo typically passes through several sequential sorting stations until it finally reaches the location that is specified by its individual address label. While each membrane system employs specific sets of factors, the transport processes typically operate on common principles. With the advent of genome- and proteome-wide screens, the availability of mutant collections, exciting new developments in microscope technology and sophisticated methods to study their dynamics, the future promises a broad and comprehensive picture of the processes by which eukaryotic cells sort their proteins.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cytoplasmic Vesicles / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Intracellular Membranes / metabolism*
  • Protein Transport
  • Proteins / metabolism*


  • Proteins