In biology, caveolae (Latin for little caves, singular: caveola), which are a special type of lipid raft, are small (50–100 nanometer) invaginations of the plasma membrane in many vertebrate cell types, especially in endothelial cells and adipocytes.
These flask-shaped structures are rich in proteins as well as lipids such as cholesterol and sphingolipids and have several functions in signal transduction. They are also believed to play a role in endocytosis, oncogenesis, and the uptake of pathogenic bacteria and certain viruses.
Caveolae are one source of clathrin-independent endocytosis involved in turnover of adhesive complexes.
Formation and maintenance of caveolae is primarily due to the protein caveolin, a 21 kD protein. This protein has both a cytoplasmic C-terminus and a cytoplasmic N-terminus, linked together by a hydrophobic hairpin that is inserted into the membrane. The presence of caveolin leads to the local change in morphology of the membrane.
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- ^ MeSH Caveolae
Structures of the cell membrane Membrane lipids Membrane protein locations Other Synaptic vesicleOther COPI COPII RME/ClathrinCLTA · CLTB · CLTC Caveolae Other/ungroupedVesicle formationRetromer · TIP47Other
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