Intracellular protein transport and sorting by vesicles in the secretory and endocytic pathways requires the formation of a protein coat on the membrane. The heterotetrameric adaptor protein complex 1 (AP-1) promotes the formation of clathrin-coated vesicles at the trans-Golgi network. AP-1 interacts with various sorting signals in the cytoplasmic tails of cargo molecules, thus indicating a function in protein sorting. We generated mutants of the gamma-adaptin subunit of AP-1 in mice to investigate its role in post-Golgi vesicle transport and sorting processes. gamma-Adaptin-deficient embryos develop until day 3.5 post coitus and die during the prenidation period, revealing that AP-1 is essential for viability. In heterozygous mice the amount of AP-1 complexes is reduced to half of controls. Free beta1- or micro1 chains were not detectable, indicating that they are unstable unless they are part of AP-1 complexes. Heterozygous mice weigh less then their wild-type littermates and show impaired T cell development.
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