Receptor-Mediated Endocytosis: Definition & Example

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  • 0:00 What Is Endocytosis?
  • 0:55 Receptor-Mediated Endocytosis
  • 1:51 How It Works
  • 2:45 Example: Cholesterol
  • 3:05 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Jeremy Battista
Receptor-mediated endocytosis is one of the ways we get nutrients and materials into a cell. The receptors on the outside of the cell act to keep out unwanted materials and take in things the cell needs. We will explore this specific type of endocytosis here.

What Is Endocytosis?

Endocytosis is a generalized term for whenever a cell takes in large molecules and other particulate matter available outside the cell. It does so in three different ways: phagocytosis, pinocytosis, and receptor-mediated endocytosis.

In all three forms, material to be ingested approaches the cell and begins to push the cellular membrane in. The membrane gives slightly, bending inwards. Once the maximum amount of material gets into the cell, the membrane will actually 'pinch off,' sealing the material inside of small organelles, called vesicles in animals and vacuoles in plants. These vesicles and vacuoles will then meet up with a lysosome, organelles that contain enzymes, inside of the cell. The lysosome will utilize acidic enzymes to break down the material inside the vesicles and vacuoles, using that food as a source to create energy (ATP).

Receptor-Mediated Endocytosis

Receptor-mediated endocytosis differs from the other two forms of endocytosis in that it is very specific as to what it takes in. Think of it like someone who is a very picky eater, like a child. They will only eat hotdogs and will refuse to eat anything else, so you have to make them hotdogs. How is it so specific? Well, inside of the cell membrane there are specific proteins that are exposed to the fluids outside of the cell, called the extracellular fluid. These proteins will only allow certain substances to attach to them. Think of it as a cellular lock and key.

The specific substances that attach to these receptor proteins actually have a specific name, called ligands. In Latin, 'ligare' means 'to bind,' so these substances are literally binding substances. These receptor sites are located around the membrane of the cell in small clusters called coated pits.

How It Works

During receptor-mediated endocytosis, ligands are found out in the extracellular fluid. They will find and bind to proteins located in clusters in the cell membrane. These coated pits of proteins will collect the ligands and force the cell to bend inwards until it cannot take in any more ligands.

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