Journal of cell science

Rab GTPases coordinate endocytosis.

PMID 10633070


Endocytosis is characterized by vesicular transport along numerous pathways. Common steps in each pathway include membrane budding to form vesicles, transport to a particular destination, and ultimately docking and fusion with the target membrane. Specificity of vesicle targeting is rendered in part by associated Rab GTPases. This review summarizes current knowledge about Rab GTPase functions in the endocytic pathways and provides insight into the regulation of Rab GTPase activity and mechanisms of Rab protein function. Functional assays have identified some Rab proteins that operate on individual pathways, but Rab proteins in several pathways remain controversial or have not been identified. Control of Rab GTPase activity is exerted through multiple levels of regulation. Significant new information pertaining to Rab protein function in regulating transport has emerged. Remarkably, Rab5 GTPase links budding, cytoskeletal transport and docking/fusion activities. This paradigm will most likely be generally applicable to other Rab GTPase pathways. Together with the cross-talk between different Rab proteins and their effectors, this may provide an integrated system for the general coordination of endocytic pathways to maintain organelle homeostasis.