Present on the plasma membrane of most metazoans, caveolae are specialized microdomains implicated in several endocytic and trafficking mechanisms. Caveolins and the more recently discovered cavins are the major protein components of caveolae. Previous studies reported that caveolar invaginations can be induced de novo on the surface of caveolae-negative mammalian cells upon heterologous expression of caveolin-1. However, it remains undocumented whether other components in the transfected cells participate in caveolae formation. To address this issue, we have exploited the protozoan Toxoplasma as a heterologous expression system to provide insights into the minimal requirements for caveogenesis and caveolar endocytosis. Upon expression of caveolin-1, Toxoplasma accumulates prototypical exocytic caveolae 'precursors' in the cytoplasm. Toxoplasma expressing caveolin-1 alone, or in conjunction with cavin-1, neither develops surface-located caveolae nor internalizes caveolar ligands. These data suggest that the formation of functional caveolae at the plasma membrane in Toxoplasma and, by inference in all non-mammalian cells, requires effectors other than caveolin-1 and cavin-1. Interestingly, Toxoplasma co-expressing caveolin-1 and cavin-1 displays an impressive spiraled network of membranes containing the two proteins, in the cytoplasm. This suggests a synergistic activity of caveolin-1 and cavin-1 in the morphogenesis and remodeling of membranes, as illustrated for Toxoplasma.
Lige, B., Romano, J. D., Sampels, V., Sonda, S., Joiner, K. A., & Coppens, I. (2012). Introduction of Caveolae Structural Proteins into the Protozoan Toxoplasma Results in the Formation of Heterologous Caveolae but Not Caveolar Endocytosis. PLoS ONE, 7(12). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0051773