© TAMI TOLPACaveolae form when caveolin oligomerizes in the membrane before cavin proteins associate. Caveolae then fold inward and can form clusters.

Data from recent studies have led scientists to suspect that caveolae may have a role in buffering changes in cell membrane tension by changing their conformation. Indeed, membrane tension causes flattening of caveolae and loss of clusters of caveolae. It is probable, but not fully proven, that cavin and caveolin proteins can switch between flat and invaginated complexes on the membrane, but other proteins known as EHDs resist these processes.

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