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Mol Biol Cell. 1999 Aug;10(8):2787-802.

Characterization of a fourth adaptor-related protein complex.

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  • 1University of Cambridge, Department of Clinical Biochemistry and Cambridge Institute for Medical Research, Cambridge CB2 2XY, England.


Adaptor protein complexes (APs) function as vesicle coat components in different membrane traffic pathways; however, there are a number of pathways for which there is still no candidate coat. To find novel coat components related to AP complexes, we have searched the expressed sequence tag database and have identified, cloned, and sequenced a new member of each of the four AP subunit families. We have shown by a combination of coimmunoprecipitation and yeast two-hybrid analysis that these four proteins (epsilon, beta4, mu4, and sigma4) are components of a novel adaptor-like heterotetrameric complex, which we are calling AP-4. Immunofluorescence reveals that AP-4 is localized to approximately 10-20 discrete dots in the perinuclear region of the cell. This pattern is disrupted by treating the cells with brefeldin A, indicating that, like other coat proteins, the association of AP-4 with membranes is regulated by the small GTPase ARF. Immunogold electron microscopy indicates that AP-4 is associated with nonclathrin-coated vesicles in the region of the trans-Golgi network. The mu4 subunit of the complex specifically interacts with a tyrosine-based sorting signal, indicating that, like the other three AP complexes, AP-4 is involved in the recognition and sorting of cargo proteins with tyrosine-based motifs. AP-4 is of relatively low abundance, but it is expressed ubiquitously, suggesting that it participates in a specialized trafficking pathway but one that is required in all cell types.

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