Caveolae and caveolae-like membrane domains in cellular signaling and disease: Identification of downstream targets for the tumor suppressor protein caveolin-1
Caveolae are small, flask-shaped invaginations of the plasma membrane present on a large number of mammalian cells. Recent results obtained with knock-out mice for the gene caveolin-1 demonstrate that expression of caveolin-1 protein is essential for caveolae formation in vivo. Caveolae are implicated in a wide variety of cellular events including transcytosis, cholesterol trafficking and as cellular centers important in coordinating signalling events. Caveolae share this role and the property of detergent insolubility with plasma membrane assemblies rich in glycosphingolipids and cholesterol, often called lipid rafts, but preferably referred to here as caveolae-like membrane domains. Due to such widespread presence and usage in cellular function, caveolae and related domains are implicated in human diseases, including cancer. In particular, the protein caveolin-1 is suggested to function as a tumor suppressor protein. Evidence demonstrating such a role for caveolin-1 in human colon carcinoma cells will be discussed together with data from microarray experiments seeking to identify caveolin-1 target genes responsible for such behavior.