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Caveolae are membrane organelles formed by submicron invaginations in the plasma membrane, and are involved in mechanosensing, cell signaling, and endocytosis. Although implicated broadly in physiology and pathophysiology, better tools are required to elucidate the precise role of caveolar processes through selective activation and inactivation of their trafficking. Our group recently reported that thermally-responsive elastin-like polypeptides (ELPs) can trigger formation of 'genetically engineered protein microdomains (GEPMs)' functionalized with either Clathrin-light chain or the epidermal growth factor receptor. This manuscript is the first report of this strategy to modulate caveolin-1 (CAV1). By attaching different ELP sequences to CAV1, mild heating can be used to self-assemble CAV1-ELP microdomains inside of cells. The temperature of self-assembly can be controlled by tuning the ELP sequence. The formation of CAV1-ELP microdomains internalizes Cholera Toxin Subunit B, a commonly used marker of caveolae mediated endocytosis. CAV1-ELPs also colocalize with Cavin 1, an essential component of functional caveolae biogenesis. With the emerging significance of caveolae in health and disease and the lack of specific probes to rapidly and reversibly affect caveolar function, CAV1-ELP microdomains are a new tool to rapidly probe caveolae associated processes in endocytosis, cell signaling, and mechanosensing.

Citation

David R Tyrpak, Yue Wang, Hugo Avila, Hao Guo, Runzhong Fu, Anh T Truong, Mincheol Park, Curtis T Okamoto, Sarah F Hamm-Alvarez, John Andrew MacKay. Caveolin elastin-like polypeptide fusions mediate temperature-dependent assembly of caveolar microdomains. ACS biomaterials science & engineering. 2020 Jan 13;6(1):198-204

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PMID: 32542186

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