Clathrin-coated vesicles (CCVs) sort proteins at the plasma membrane, endosomes and trans Golgi network for multiple membrane traffic pathways. Clathrin recruitment to membranes and its self-assembly into a polyhedral coat depends on adaptor molecules, which interact with membrane-associated vesicle cargo. To determine how adaptors induce clathrin recruitment and assembly, we mapped novel interaction sites between these coat components. A site in the ankle domain of the clathrin triskelion leg was identified that binds a common site on the appendages of tetrameric [AP1 and AP2] and monomeric (GGA1) adaptors. Mutagenesis and modeling studies suggested that the clathrin-GGA1 appendage interface is nonlinear, unlike other peptide-appendage interactions, but overlaps with a sandwich domain binding site for accessory protein peptides, allowing for competitive regulation of coated vesicle formation. A novel clathrin box in the GGA1 hinge region was also identified and shown to mediate membrane recruitment of clathrin, while disruption of the clathrin-GGA1 appendage interaction did not affect recruitment. Thus, the distinct sites for clathrin-adaptor interactions perform distinct functions, revealing new aspects to regulation of CCV formation.
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