Clathrin domains involved in recognition by assembly protein AP-2

James H. Keen, Kenneth A Beck, Tomas Kirchhausen, Traci Jarrett

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


The domains on clathrin responsible for interaction with the plasma membrane-associated assembly protein AP-2 have been studied using a novel cage binding assay. AP-2 bound to pure clathrin cages but not to coat structures already containing AP that had been prepared by coassembly. Binding to preassembled cages also occurred in the presence of elevated Tris-HCl concentrations (≥200 mM) which block AP-2 interactions with free clathrin. AP-2 interactions with assembled cages could also be distinguished from AP-2 binding to clathrin trimers by sodium tripolyphosphate (NaPPPi), which binds to the α subunit of AP-2 (Beck, K., and Keen, J. H. (1991) J. Biol. Chem. 266, 4442-4447). At concentrations of 1-5 mM, NaPPPi blocked clathrin-triskelion binding; in contrast, interactions with cages persisted in the presence of 25 mM NaPPPi. To begin to identify the region(s) of the clathrin molecule important in recognition by AP-2, clathrin cages were proteolyzed to remove heavy chain terminal domains and portions of the distal leg as well as all of the light chains. AP-2 bound to these "clipped cages"; however, unlike the interaction with native cages, binding of AP-2 to clipped cages was sensitive to the lower concentrations of both Tris-HCl and NaPPPi which disrupt interactions of AP-2 with clathrin trimers. Reconstitution of the clipped cages with clathrin light chains did not restore resistance of AP-2 binding to Tris-HCl. We conclude that one binding site for AP-2 resides on the hub and/or proximal part of the clathrin triskelion whereas a second site is likely to involve the terminal domain and/or distal leg; the second site is manifested only in the assembled lattice structure. We suggest that these two distinct binding interactions may be mediated by the two unique large subunits within the AP-2 complex, acting sequentially during assembly.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)7950-7956
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number12
StatePublished - Apr 25 1991
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry


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