The enigmatic endosome - Sorting the ins and outs of endocytic trafficking

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200 Scopus citations


The early endosome (EE), also known as the sorting endosome (SE) is a crucial station for the sorting of cargoes, such as receptors and lipids, through the endocytic pathways. The term endosome relates to the receptacle-like nature of this organelle, to which endocytosed cargoes are funneled upon internalization from the plasma membrane. Having been delivered by the fusion of internalized vesicles with the EE or SE, cargo molecules are then sorted to a variety of endocytic pathways, including the endo-lysosomal pathway for degradation, direct or rapid recycling to the plasma membrane, and to a slower recycling pathway that involves a specialized form of endosome known as a recycling endosome (RE), often localized to the perinuclear endocytic recycling compartment (ERC). It is striking that 'the endosome', which plays such essential cellular roles, has managed to avoid a precise description, and its characteristics remain ambiguous and heterogeneous. Moreover, despite the rapid advances in scientific methodologies, including breakthroughs in light microscopy, overall, the endosome remains poorly defined. This Review will attempt to collate key characteristics of the different types of endosomes and provide a platform for discussion of this unique and fascinating collection of organelles. Moreover, underdeveloped, poorly understood and important open questions will be discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberjcs216499
JournalJournal of cell science
Issue number13
StatePublished - Jul 1 2018


  • Budding
  • Early endosome
  • Fission
  • Late endosome
  • Recycling endosome
  • Sorting endosome

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cell Biology


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