Caveolae, specialised regions of the cell membrane which have been detected in a wide range of mammalian cells, have not been described in bone cells. They are plasmalemmal invaginations, 50 to 100 nm in size, characterised by the presence of the structural protein, caveolin, which exists as three subtypes. Caveolin-1 and caveolin-2 are expressed in a wide range of cell types whereas caveolin-3 is thought to be a muscle-specific subtype. There is little information on the precise function of caveolae, but it has been proposed that they play an important role in signal transduction. As the principal bone-producing cell, the osteoblast has been widely studied in an effort to understand the signalling pathways by which it responds to extracellular stimuli. Our aim in this study was to identify caveolae and their structural protein caveolin in normal human osteoblasts, and to determine which subtypes of caveolin were present. Confocal microscopy showed staining which was associated with the plasma membrane. Transmission electron microscopy revealed the presence of membrane invaginations of 50 to 100 nm, consistent with the appearance of caveolae. Finally, we isolated protein from these osteoblasts, and performed Western blotting using anti-caveolin primary antibodies. This revealed the presence of caveolin-1 and -2, while caveolin-3 was absent. The identification of these structures and their associated protein may provide a significant contribution to our further understanding of signal transduction pathways in osteoblasts.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Orthopedics and Sports Medicine