Endothelial barrier function is regulated in part by the transcellular transport of albumin and other macromolecules via endothelial caveolae (i.e., this process is defined as transcytosis). Using pulmonary microvascular endothelial cells, we have identified the specific interactions between a cell surface albumin-docking protein gp60 and caveolin-1 as well as components of the signaling machinery, heterotrimeric G protein (Gi)- and Src-family tyrosine kinase. Ligation of gp60 on the apical membrane induces the release of caveolae from the apical membrane and activation of endocytosis. The formed vesicles contain the gp60-bound albumin and also albumin and other solutes present in the fluid phase. Vesicles are transported in a polarized manner to the basolateral membrane, releasing their contents by exocytosis into the subendothelial space. The signaling functions of Gi and Src are important in the release of caveolae from the plasma membrane. The Src-induced phosphorylation of caveolin-1 is crucial in regulating interactions of caveolin-1 with other components of the signaling machinery such as Gi, and key signaling entry of caveolae into the cytoplasm and endocytosis of albumin and other solutes. This review addresses the basis of transcytosis in endothelial cells, its central role as a determinant of endothelial barrier function, and signaling mechanisms involved in regulating fission of caveolae and trafficking of the formed vesicles from the luminal to abluminal side of the endothelial barrier.
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