We study a physical model for the formation of bud-like invaginations on fluid lipid membranes under tension, and apply this model to caveolae formation. We demonstrate that budding can be driven by membrane-bound proteins, provided that they exert asymmetric forces on the membrane that give rise to bending moments. In particular, caveolae formation does not necessarily require forces to be applied by the cytoskeleton. Our theoretical model is able to explain several features observed experimentally in caveolae, where proteins in the caveolin family are known to play a crucial role in the formation of caveolae buds. These include 1), the formation of caveolae buds with sizes in the 100-nm range and 2), that certain N- and C-termini deletion mutants result in vesicles that are an order-of-magnitude larger. Finally, we discuss the possible origin of the morphological striations that are observed on the surfaces of the caveolae
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