The structures of natively assembled clathrin-coated vesicles

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Science Advances  22 Jul 2020:
Vol. 6, no. 30, eaba8397
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aba8397


Clathrin-coated vesicles mediate trafficking of proteins and nutrients in the cell and between organelles. Proteins included in the clathrin-coated vesicles (CCVs) category include clathrin heavy chain (CHC), clathrin light chain (CLC), and a variety of adaptor protein complexes. Much is known about the structures of the individual CCV components, but data are lacking about the structures of the fully assembled complexes together with membrane and in complex with cargo. Here, we determined the structures of natively assembled CCVs in a variety of geometries. We show that the adaptor β2 appendages crosslink adjacent CHC β-propellers and that the appendage densities are enriched in CCV hexagonal faces. We resolve how adaptor protein 2 and other associated factors in hexagonal faces form an assembly hub with an extensive web of interactions between neighboring β-propellers and propose a structural model that explains how adaptor binding can direct the formation of pentagonal and hexagonal faces.

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