Enhancement of endocytosis due to aminophospholipid transport across the plasma membrane of living cells

Emmanuel Farge, David M. Ojcius, Agathe Subtil, Alice Dautry-Varsat*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal Article peer-review

125 Scopus citations


Formation of intracellular vesicles is initiated by membrane budding. Here we test the hypothesis that the plasma membrane surface area asymmetry could be a driving force for vesicle formation during endocytosis. The inner layer phospholipid number was therefore increased by adding exogenous aminophospholipids to living cells, which were then translocated from the outer to the inner layer of the membrane by the ubiquitous flippase. Addition of either phosphatidylserine or phosphatidylethanolamine led to an enhancement of endocytosis, showing that the observed acceleration does not depend on the lipid polar head group. Conversely, a closely related aminophospholipid that is not recognized by the flippase, lyso-α- phosphatidylserine, inhibited endocytosis, and similar results were obtained with a cholesterol derivative that also remains in the plasma membrane outer layer. Thus an increase of lipid concentration in the inner layer enhanced internalization, whereas an increase of the lipid concentration in the outer layer inhibited internalization. These experiments suggest that transient asymmetries in lipid concentration might contribute to the formation of endocytic vesicles.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)C725-C733
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Cell Physiology
Issue number3 45-3
StatePublished - 1999
Externally publishedYes


  • Clathrin
  • Flippase
  • Membrane budding


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