Membrane receptors for endocytosis in the renal proximal tubule

Int Rev Cytol. 1998;180:237-84. doi: 10.1016/s0074-7696(08)61772-6.


The renal proximal tubule exhibits a very extensive apical endocytic apparatus consisting of an elaborate network of coated pits and small coated and noncoated endosomes. In addition, the cells contain a large number of late endosomes/prelysosomes, lysosomes, and so-called dense apical tubules involved in receptor recycling from the endosomes to the apical plasma membrane. This endocytic apparatus is involved in the reabsorption of molecules filtered in the glomeruli. The process is very effective as demonstrated by the fact that although several grams of protein are filtered daily in the human glomeruli, human urine is virtually devoid of proteins under physiological conditions. Several key receptors appear to be involved in this function, which serves not only to conserve protein as such for the organism but also to reabsorb vital substances such as different vitamins in complex with their binding proteins. Recent research has established megalin, a 600-kDa protein belonging to the LDL receptor family, as probably the most important receptor in this process in the proximal tubule mediating endocytosis of a large variety of ligands and therefore classifying it as a scavenger receptor. More specific receptors like the folate receptor, IGF-II/Man-6-P receptor, and gp280/IFR, identical to the intrinsic factor receptor, are also functioning in the apical endocytic pathway of renal proximal tubules. A better understanding of these receptors will give us new insight into these very important processes for the organism.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Carrier Proteins / physiology
  • Endocytosis / physiology*
  • Folate Receptors, GPI-Anchored
  • Heymann Nephritis Antigenic Complex
  • Humans
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor II / physiology
  • Kidney Tubules, Proximal / physiology*
  • Kidney Tubules, Proximal / ultrastructure
  • Membrane Glycoproteins / physiology
  • Protein-Tyrosine Kinases
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins / chemistry
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins / physiology
  • Receptor Protein-Tyrosine Kinases*
  • Receptors, Cell Surface / physiology*


  • Carrier Proteins
  • Folate Receptors, GPI-Anchored
  • Heymann Nephritis Antigenic Complex
  • Membrane Glycoproteins
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins
  • Receptors, Cell Surface
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor II
  • Protein-Tyrosine Kinases
  • ROS1 protein, human
  • Receptor Protein-Tyrosine Kinases