Podocytes are cells of the visceral epithelium in the kidneys and form a crucial component of the glomerular filtration barrier by covering the exterior basement surface of the glomerular capillary and maintaining a massive filtration surface. The infoldings of adjacent cell membranes (interdigitation) of these cells produces thin filtration slits are bridged by a layer of material (currently undergoing much study to determine its composition), that acts as a filter for large macromolecules.
Structural features of podocytes indicate a high rate of vesicular traffic in these cells. Many coated vesicles and coated pits can be seen along the basolateral domain of the podocytes. In their cell body, podocytes possess a well-developed Endoplasmic Reticulum and a large Golgi apparatus, indicative of a high capacity for protein synthesis and post-translational modifications. There is also growing evidence of a large number of multivesicular bodies and other lysosomal components seen in these cells, indicating a high endocytic activity.
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