What are caveolae?
These are flask shaped invaginations found in the plasma membrane. Caveolae are uniquely composed of sphingolipids, cholesterol, phospholipids containing saturated fatty acids, and a caveolin-1. Signaling molecules are targeted to caveolae, such as those involved in cancer. The proper organization of these proteins is integral to the functional inactivation of specific proteins until activated by another protein component of a given signaling cascade. This provides the means for specific proteins to find and interact with each other. Owing to the ubiquitous distribution of caveolae in many cell types, they are believed to play an important role in human health and disease.
Why is it of interest?
Caveolae are increasingly being implicated in many cellular functions and also human diseases. The mechanisms by which specific dietary fatty acids affect cellular function and influence human disease has not yet been fully elucidated. Modification of caveolae function by dietary fatty acids may be a mechanism which significantly reshapes our understanding of how fatty acids affect human health.
Relevant paper(s) from Ma Lab.
David W.L. Ma. Lipid Mediators in Membrane Rafts are Important Determinants of Human Health and Disease. Applied Physiology, Nutrition and Metabolism. Invited Review. 2007, 32, 341-350.