We discuss in this review recent studies using the worm Caenorhabditis elegans to decipher endocytic trafficking in a multicellular organism. Recent advances, including in vivo assay systems, new genetic screens, comparative functional analysis of conserved proteins, and RNA-mediated interference (RNAi) in C. elegans, are being used to study the functions of known membrane trafficking factors and to identify new ones. The ability to monitor endocytosis in vivo in worms allows one to test current endocytosis models and to demonstrate the physiological significance of factors identified by genetic and biochemical methods. The available human genome sequence facilitates comparative studies where human homologs of new factors identified in C. elegans can be quickly assayed for similar function using traditional cell biological methods in mammalian cell systems. New studies in C. elegans have used a combination of these techniques to reveal novel metazoan-specific trafficking factors required for endocytosis. Many more metazoan-specific trafficking factors and insights into the mechanisms of endocytosis are likely to be uncovered by analysis in C. elegans.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Structural Biology
- Molecular Biology
- Cell Biology
- C. elegans