Cell motility is important for many physiological and pathological processes including organ development, wound healing, cancer metastasis and correct immune responses. In particular, epithelial wound healing is both a medically relevant topic and a common experimental model. Mechanisms underlying generation of a polarized cell and maintenance of a motile phenotype during steady-state migration are not well understood. Polarized trafficking of bulk membrane and cell adhesion molecules has been implicated in regulation of cell motility. The present review focuses on the role of different trafficking pathways in epithelial cell migration, including clathrin-mediated endocytosis, caveolar endocytosis, exocytosis of biosynthetic cargo, ‘short-loop’ and ‘long-loop’ endosomal recycling.

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