Endocytic pathways are highly dynamic gateways for molecules to enter cells. Functionality and specificity is in part controlled by a number of small GTPases called Rabs. In defined cellular locations, Rabs mediate multiple functions in membrane trafficking via their specific interaction with organelle membranes and a host of affector and effector molecules. On endocytic pathways, Rabs have been shown to control the formation of vesicles on the plasma membrane and the downstream delivery of internalized molecules to a number of cellular locations. As numerous Rabs are located to endocytic pathways, an internalized molecule may traverse a number of Rab specific substations or subdomains en route to its final destination. Rabs 5, 21 and 22 have all been localized to the early endocytic pathway and have been shown to share a number of characteristics to merit their segregation into a single functional endocytic group. In this review, we compare experiments that describe similarities and differences in endosome morphology and function that is mediated by their expression in cells.
- © 2005 The Biochemical Society