Weibel-Palade bodies (WPBs), the storage organelles of endothelial cells, are essential to normal haemostatic and inflammatory responses. Their major constituent protein is von Willebrand factor (VWF) which, following stimulation with secretagogues, is released into the blood vessel lumen as large platelet-catching strings. This exocytosis changes the protein composition of the cell surface and also results in a net increase in the amount of plasma membrane. Compensatory endocytosis is thought to limit changes in cell size and retrieve fusion machinery and other misplaced integral membrane proteins following exocytosis; however, little is known about the extent, timing, mechanism and precise function of compensatory endocytosis in endothelial cells. Using biochemical assays, live-cell imaging and correlative spinning-disk microscopy and transmission electron microscopy assays we provide the first in-depth high-resolution characterisation of this process. We provide a model of compensatory endocytosis based on rapid clathrin- and dynamin-mediated retrieval. Inhibition of this process results in a change of exocytic mode: WPBs then fuse with previously fused WPBs rather than the plasma membrane, leading, in turn, to the formation of structurally impaired tangled VWF strings.
- Weibel-Palade bodies