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Cell Struct Funct. 2003 Oct;28(5):419-29.

Adaptor protein complexes as the key regulators of protein sorting in the post-Golgi network.

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Division of Molecular Membrane Biology, Cancer Research Institute, Kanazawa University, 13-1 Takara-machi, Kanazawa 920-0934, Japan.


Adaptor protein (AP) complexes are cytosolic heterotetramers that mediate the sorting of membrane proteins in the secretory and endocytic pathways. AP complexes are involved in the formation of clathrin-coated vesicles (CCVs) by recruiting the scaffold protein, clathrin. AP complexes also play a pivotal role in the cargo selection by recognizing the sorting signals within the cytoplasmic tail of integral membrane proteins. Six distinct AP complexes have been identified. AP-2 mediates endocytosis from the plasma membrane, while AP-1, AP-3 and AP-4 play a role in the endosomal/lysosomal sorting pathways. Moreover, tissue-specific sorting events such as the basolateral sorting in polarized epithelial cells and the biogenesis of specialized organelles including melanosomes and synaptic vesicles are also regulated by members of AP complexes. The application of a variety of methodologies have gradually revealed the physiological role of AP complexes.

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