Receptor-mediated endocytosis

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Receptor mediated endocytosis is a special form of membrane transport [1]. It is the process by which molecules such as LDL cross the plasma membrane in order to be degraded into cholesterol which can be used to make cell membranes. Here is a break down of how it does so:

  1. The LDL molecule binds to an LDL receptor on the plasma membrane.
  2. Clatharin molecules coat the cytosolic side of the plasma membrane that is penetrated by the LDL-receptor complex. The membrane becomes a vesicle as the LDL-receptor complex is endocytosed.
  3. Now the clatharin coated vesicle is in the cytosol. Here it loses its clatharin coating and fuses with an endosome. In the endosome the recpetor buds off and is returned to the plasma membrane. the endosome containing the LDL molecule fuses to a lysosome. The lysosome, contains degradative enzymes that break the LDL into free cholesterol [2].

LDL is just one example of a molecule exploiting receptor-mediated endocytosis, other molecules include: vitamin B12 and iron [3].


  1. date accessed: 08/01/2011
  2. Alberts B et al,. 2004. New York: Garland Science pg 525-526
  3. Alberts.B et al., 2010. Essential cell bio, 3rd ed, New York: Garland Science.

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