In adult animals and humans, signal transduction maintains homeostasis. When homeostatic mechanisms are interrupted, an illness or disease may ensue. Caveolae are plasma membrane specializations that contain the structural proteins caveolins, and appear to be important for normal signal transduction. The caveolin scaffolding domain interacts with several signaling molecules, sequestering them in the absence of activating signals, and thereby reducing the signal-to-noise ratio. Deletion and mutation of genes that encode caveolins is implicated in the pathogenesis of several human diseases. Down-regulation of caveolin-1 protein expression leads to deregulated signaling and consequently tumorigenesis, whereas naturally occurring dominant-negative caveolin-3 mutations cause muscular dystrophy.

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