Solute Transport Controls Membrane Tension and Organellar Volume
Cellular Physiology and Biochemistry
The regulation of cellular volume in response to osmotic change has largely been studied at the whole cell level. Such regulation occurs by the inhibition or activation of ionic and organic solute transport pathways at the cell surface and is coincident with remodelling of the plasma membrane. However, it is only in rare instances that osmotic insults are experienced by cells and tissues. By contrast, the relatively minute luminal volumes of membrane-bound organelles are constantly subject to
... tantly subject to shifts in their solute concentrations as exemplified in the endocytic pathway where these evolve alongside with maturation. In this review, we summarize recent evidence that suggests trafficking events are in fact orchestrated by the solute fluxes of organelles that briefly impose osmotic gradients. We first describe how hydrostatic pressure and the resultant tension on endomembranes can be readily dissipated by controlled solute efflux since water is obliged to exit. In such cases, the relief of tension on the limiting membrane of the organelle can promote its remodelling by coat proteins, ESCRT machinery, and motors. Second, and reciprocally, we propose that osmotic gradients between organellar lumens and the cytosol may persist or be created. Such gradients impose osmotic pressure and tension on the endomembrane that prevent its remodelling. The control of endomembrane tension is dysregulated in lysosomal storage disorders and can be usurped by pathogens in endolysosomes. Since trafficking and signaling pathways conceivably sense and respond to endomembrane tension, we anticipate that understanding how cells control organellar volumes and the movement of endocytic fluid in particular will be an exciting new area of research.