Endocytosis has long been identified as a key cellular process involved in bringing in nutrients, in clearing cellular debris in tissue, in the regulation of signaling, and in maintaining cell membrane compositional homeostasis. While clathrin-mediated endocytosis has been most extensively studied, a number of clathrin-independent endocytic pathways are continuing to be delineated. Here we provide a current survey of the different types of endocytic pathways available at the cell surface and discuss a new classification and plausible molecular mechanisms for some of the less characterized pathways. Along with an evolutionary perspective of the origins of some of these pathways, we provide an appreciation of the distinct roles that these pathways play in various aspects of cellular physiology, including the control of signaling and membrane tension.
Keywords: CLIC/GEEC; caveolae; clathrin-independent endocytosis; clathrin-mediated endocytosis; dynamin; evolution; signaling.