Introduction

Molecular mechanistic studies of senescent phenotypes such as morphological alteration and deterioration in physiological function have led to the finding that the caveolin molecule might play a prime determinant role in the bimodal nature of the aging process [1,2]. The defective endocytosis system in the aged organism, which is due to an imbalance or dysregulation of the signal transduction system for the entry and relay of signals, was seen to be the basis of the gate theory of aging, with special emphasis being placed on the role of prime modulator molecules to determine the senescent phenotype [3]. Although having been proposed previously as a candidate for a prime modulator molecule [4], caveolin has more recently been suggested as being a possible determinant of the morphological adjustment of senescent cells via modulation of the cytoskeleton, as well as having a role as a functional modulator [5].

Various cellular processes such as differentiation, apoptosis, migration, transformation and cellular senescence require morphological changes with cytoskele-tal rearrangement. In this context, a new proposal has been made that caveolins might play a role in morphological determination via actin remodeling through the modulation of polarity and Rho GTPase activity [6,7]. Thus, the activity of caveolin as a modulator of polarity and Rho GTPase activity might provide a novel - albeit somewhat intriguing - approach to study the crosstalk of cellular function and structure relationships.

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