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Nat Struct Mol Biol. 2013 Feb;20(2):167-73. doi: 10.1038/nsmb.2467. Epub 2012 Dec 23.

A pseudoatomic model of the COPII cage obtained from cryo-electron microscopy and mass spectrometry.

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Department of Physics, Florida State University, Tallahassee, Florida, USA.


COPII vesicles transport proteins from the endoplasmic reticulum to the Golgi apparatus. Previous COPII-cage cryo-EM structures lacked the resolution necessary to determine the residues of Sec13 and Sec31 that mediate assembly and flexibility of the COPII cage. Here we present a 12-Å structure of the human COPII cage, where the tertiary structure of Sec13 and Sec31 is clearly identifiable. We employ this structure and a homology model of the Sec13-Sec31 complex to create a reliable pseudoatomic model of the COPII cage. We combined this model with hydrogen/deuterium-exchange MS analysis to characterize four distinct contact regions at the vertices of the COPII cage. Furthermore, we found that the two-fold symmetry of the Sec31 dimeric region in Sec13-Sec31 is broken upon cage formation and that the resulting hinge is essential to form the proper edge geometry in COPII cages.

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