The role of endocytosis in controlling a multitude of cell biological events is well established. Molecular and mechanistic characterization of endocytosis has predominantly focused on CME (clathrin-mediated endocytosis), although many other endocytic pathways have been described. It was recently shown that the BAR (Bin/amphiphysin/Rvs) and Rho GAP (GTPase-activating protein) domain-containing protein GRAF1 (GTPase regulator associated with focal adhesion kinase-1) is found on prevalent, pleiomorphic endocytic membranes, and is essential for the major, clathrin-independent endocytic pathway that these membranes mediate. This pathway is characterized by its ability to internalize GPI (glycosylphosphatidylinositol)-anchored proteins, bacterial toxins and large amounts of extracellular fluid. These membrane carriers are highly dynamic and associated with the activity of the small G-protein Cdc42 (cell division cycle 42). In the present paper, we review the role of GRAF1 in this CLIC (clathrin-independent carrier)/GEEC (GPI-anchored protein-enriched early endocytic compartment) endocytic pathway and discuss the current understanding regarding how this multidomain protein functions at the interface between membrane sculpting, small G-protein signalling and endocytosis.

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