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J Biol Chem. 1999 Aug 6;274(32):22785-94.

AP180 and AP-2 interact directly in a complex that cooperatively assembles clathrin.

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Department of Molecular Medicine, Institute of Biotechnology, University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, San Antonio, Texas 78245, USA.


Clathrin-coated vesicles are involved in protein and lipid trafficking between intracellular compartments in eukaryotic cells. AP-2 and AP180 are the resident coat proteins of clathrin-coated vesicles in nerve terminals, and interactions between these proteins could be important in vesicle dynamics. AP180 and AP-2 each assemble clathrin efficiently under acidic conditions, but neither protein will assemble clathrin efficiently at physiological pH. We find that there is a direct, clathrin-independent interaction between AP180 and AP-2 and that the AP180-AP-2 complex is more efficient at assembling clathrin under physiological conditions than is either protein alone. AP180 is phosphorylated in vivo, and in crude vesicle extracts its phosphorylation is enhanced by stimulation of casein kinase II, which is known to be present in coated vesicles. We find that recombinant AP180 is a substrate for casein kinase II in vitro and that its phosphorylation weakens both the binding of AP-2 by AP180 and the cooperative clathrin assembly activity of these proteins. We have localized the binding site for AP-2 to amino acids 623-680 of AP180. The AP180/AP-2 interaction can be disrupted by a recombinant AP180 fragment containing the AP-2 binding site, and this fragment also disrupts the cooperative clathrin assembly activity of the AP180-AP-2 complex. These results indicate that AP180 and AP-2 interact directly to form a complex that assembles clathrin more efficiently than either protein alone. Phosphorylation of AP180, by modulating the affinity of AP180 for AP-2, may contribute to the regulation of clathrin assembly in vivo.

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