Caveolae are flask-shaped membrane invaginations present in most mammalian cells. They are distinguished by the presence of a striated coat composed of the protein, caveolin. Caveolae have been implicated in numerous cellular processes, including potocytosis in which caveolae are hypothesized to co-localize with folate receptor α and participate in folate uptake. Our laboratory has recently localized folate receptor α to the basolateral surface of the retinal pigment epithelium (RPE). It is present also in many other cells of the retina. In the present study, we asked whether caveolae were present in the RPE, and if so, whether their pattern of distribution was similar to folate receptor α. We also examined the distribution pattern of caveolin-1, which can be a marker of caveolae. Extensive electron microscopical analysis revealed caveolae associated with endothelial cells. However, none were detected in intact or cultured RPE. Laser scanning confocal microscopical analysis of intact RPE localized caveolin-1 to the apical and basal surfaces, a distribution unlike folate receptor α. Western analysis confirmed the presence of caveolin-1 in cultured RPE cells and laser scanning confocal microscopy localized the protein to the basal plasma membrane of the RPE, a distribution like that of folate receptor α. This distribution was confirmed by electron microscopic immunolocalization. The lack of caveolae in the RPE suggests that these structures may not be essential for folate internalization in the RPE.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cell Biology