Role of membrane trafficking in plasma membrane solute transport

Am J Physiol. 1994 Jul;267(1 Pt 1):C1-24. doi: 10.1152/ajpcell.1994.267.1.C1.


Cells can rapidly and reversibly alter solute transport rates by changing the kinetics of transport proteins resident within the plasma membrane. Most notably, this can be brought about by reversible phosphorylation of the transporter. An additional mechanism for acute regulation of plasma membrane transport rates is by the regulated exocytic insertion of transport proteins from intracellular vesicles into the plasma membrane and their subsequent regulated endocytic retrieval. Over the past few years, the number of transporters undergoing this regulated trafficking has increased dramatically, such that what was once an interesting translocation of a few transporters has now become a widespread modality for regulating plasma membrane solute permeabilities. The aim of this article is to review the models proposed for the regulated trafficking of transport proteins and what lines of evidence should be obtained to document regulated exocytic insertion and endocytic retrieval of transport proteins. We highlight four transporters, the insulin-responsive glucose transporter, the antidiuretic hormone-responsive water channel, the urinary bladder H(+)-ATPase, and the cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator Cl- channel, and discuss the various approaches taken to document their regulated trafficking. Finally, we discuss areas of uncertainty that remain to be investigated concerning the molecular mechanisms involved in regulating the trafficking of proteins.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biological Transport
  • Carrier Proteins / metabolism
  • Cell Membrane / metabolism*
  • Cystic Fibrosis Transmembrane Conductance Regulator
  • Cytoskeleton / metabolism
  • Endocytosis
  • Glucose Transporter Type 4
  • Humans
  • Ion Channels / metabolism
  • Membrane Proteins / metabolism
  • Monosaccharide Transport Proteins / metabolism
  • Muscle Proteins*
  • Proton-Translocating ATPases / metabolism
  • Subcellular Fractions / metabolism
  • Vasopressins / physiology
  • Water / metabolism


  • CFTR protein, human
  • Carrier Proteins
  • Glucose Transporter Type 4
  • Ion Channels
  • Membrane Proteins
  • Monosaccharide Transport Proteins
  • Muscle Proteins
  • SLC2A4 protein, human
  • Water
  • Vasopressins
  • Cystic Fibrosis Transmembrane Conductance Regulator
  • Proton-Translocating ATPases