PerspectiveCell Biology

Channeling Calcium: A Shared Mechanism for Exocytosis–Endocytosis Coupling

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Sci. Signal.  22 Dec 2009:
Vol. 2, Issue 102, pp. pe80
DOI: 10.1126/scisignal.2102pe80

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Cell surface area is maintained in most cells by coupling exocytotic activity to compensatory endocytosis, a process that specifically retrieves membrane inserted by exocytosis. Although such coupling mechanisms seem to be ubiquitous, the mechanisms through which these membrane trafficking events are linked have remained elusive. A mechanism for coupling exocytosis to endocytosis in fruit fly nerve terminals that depends on the exocytotic insertion of vesicular calcium channels into the plasma membrane has recently been identified. This coupling mechanism resembles one previously described in sea urchin eggs. Here, I compare the similarities and differences of the processes involved in linking exocytosis to endocytosis in these two invertebrate systems and speculate on whether the vertebrate coupling mechanism might also depend on vesicular channels.

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