Hypoxia-stimulated membrane trafficking requires T-plastin

Acta Physiol (Oxf). 2017 Sep;221(1):59-73. doi: 10.1111/apha.12859. Epub 2017 Mar 23.


Aim: Traffic between the plasma membrane and the endomembrane compartments is an essential feature of eukaryotic cells. The secretory pathway sends cargoes from biosynthetic compartments to the plasma membrane. This is counterbalanced by a retrograde endocytic route and is essential for cell homoeostasis. Cells need to adapt rapidly to environmental challenges such as the reduction of pO2 which, however, has not been analysed in relation to membrane trafficking in detail. Therefore, we determined changes in the plasma membrane trafficking in normoxia, hypoxia, and after reoxygenation.

Methods: Membrane trafficking was analysed by using the bulk membrane endocytosis marker FM 1-43, the newly developed membrane probe mCLING, wheat germ agglutinin as well as fluorescently labelled cholera toxin subunit B. Additionally, the uptake of specific membrane proteins was determined. In parallel, a non-biased SILAC screen was performed to analyse the abundance of membrane proteins in normoxia and hypoxia.

Results: Membrane trafficking was increased in hypoxia and quickly reversed upon reoxygenation. This effect was independent of the hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF) system. Using SILAC technology, we identified that the actin-bundling protein T-plastin is recruited to the plasma membrane in hypoxia. By the use of T-plastin knockdown cells, we could show that T-plastin mediates the hypoxia-induced membrane trafficking, which was associated with an increased actin density in the cells as determined by electron microscopy.

Conclusion: Membrane trafficking is highly dynamic upon hypoxia. This phenotype is quickly reversible upon reoxygenation, which suggests that this mechanism participates in the cellular adaptation to hypoxia.

Keywords: T-plastin; actin bundling; hypoxia; hypoxia-inducible-factor; membrane trafficking.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Line
  • Cell Membrane / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Hypoxia / metabolism*
  • Membrane Glycoproteins / metabolism*
  • Microfilament Proteins / metabolism*
  • Protein Transport / physiology*
  • Rats


  • Membrane Glycoproteins
  • Microfilament Proteins
  • plastin