What are membrane reservoirs?2018-02-06T13:30:28+08:30

What are membrane reservoirs?

Membrane reservoirs serve as membrane buffers that help redistribute membrane area when cells need to stretch or change shape and size. They are found at the cell surface as membrane superstructures varying in size from large membrane folds, to tiny membrane invaginations and caveolae (reviewed in [1]).

Cells are often subject to frequent morphological changes throughout life. For example, cellular processes like phagocytosis and migration require protrusion-driven movement and cell shape changes. At the tissue and organ level, critical biological processes such as respiration and the cardiac cycle rely on the continuous, coordinated expansion and contraction of cells.

In order to accommodate these varied changes in cell morphology, the cell membrane that contains the cell must alter morphology as well. However, cell membranes are highly inelastic. Studies have shown that the maximum elastic stretching of a membrane is only 4%, even when the cell is subjected to lytic tensions which are 100 to 1000 fold greater than normal [2]. Therefore, increases or decreases in membrane area during cell shape or volume changes must be modulated by mechanisms other than simple elastic stretching.

One such mechanism is recycling of membrane through various endocytic and exocytic membrane trafficking pathways [3] [4]. However, this cannot solely account for larger membrane requirements in spreading cells [5] or the rapid and constitutive membrane remodeling needed due to continual shear stress experienced by epithelial cells during breathing. Recent research has revealed that larger and rapid membrane area requirements may be met by reservoirs of membrane that store and release large fractions of the membrane [6], [5].

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  1. Gauthier NC, Masters TA, and Sheetz MP. Mechanical feedback between membrane tension and dynamics. Trends Cell Biol. 2012; 22(10):527-35. [PMID: 22921414]
  2. Diz-Muñoz A, Fletcher DA, and Weiner OD. Use the force: membrane tension as an organizer of cell shape and motility. Trends Cell Biol. 2012; 23(2):47-53. [PMID: 23122885]
  3. Gauthier NC, Rossier OM, Mathur A, Hone JC, and Sheetz MP. Plasma membrane area increases with spread area by exocytosis of a GPI-anchored protein compartment. Mol. Biol. Cell 2009; 20(14):3261-72. [PMID: 19458190]
  4. Boulant S, Kural C, Zeeh J, Ubelmann F, and Kirchhausen T. Actin dynamics counteract membrane tension during clathrin-mediated endocytosis. Nat. Cell Biol. 2011; 13(9):1124-31. [PMID: 21841790]
  5. Gauthier NC, Fardin MA, Roca-Cusachs P, and Sheetz MP. Temporary increase in plasma membrane tension coordinates the activation of exocytosis and contraction during cell spreading. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 2011; 108(35):14467-72. [PMID: 21808040]
  6. Raucher D, and Sheetz MP. Characteristics of a membrane reservoir buffering membrane tension. Biophys. J. 1999; 77(4):1992-2002. [PMID: 10512819]