Caveolar Microdomains of the Sarcolemma: Compartmentation of Signaling Molecules Comes of Age

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"For more than two decades, investigators who have been studying signal transduction in the heart (and other tissues) have struggled to explain data implicating the existence of 'compartmentation.' The data have included evidence for selective effects of certain types of hormonal and neurotransmitter agonists on 'downstream' events, in spite of their utilization of common 'upstream' second messenger pathways.1,2 The concept of compartmentation arose, at least partially, as an explanation for such phenomena. Yet progress in defining the physical nature of these compartments has, until recently, been rather slow. One problem has been that the biochemical paradigm, which typically involves destroying cells, isolating subcellular fractions, and assaying enzymatic or other activity, is not particularly well suited for precise identification of signaling domains responsible for compartmentation. Consider the folly of this type of approach if one were to use it to identify each of the parts of an appliance, such as a television set. One would smash the appliance, breaking it down into smaller pieces and then attempt to assemble these 'fractions' in order to try and learn the function of each component."


This article was originally published in Circulation Research, volume 84, in 1999. DOI: 10.1161/01.RES.84.9.1110


American Heart Association