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Trends Cell Biol. 2013 Jun;23(6):279-88. doi: 10.1016/j.tcb.2013.01.005. Epub 2013 Feb 13.

Vesicle coats: structure, function, and general principles of assembly.

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Structural and Computational Biology Unit, European Molecular Biology Laboratory, Meyerhofstrasse 1, 69117 Heidelberg, Germany.


The transport of proteins and lipids between distinct cellular compartments is conducted by coated vesicles. These vesicles are formed by the self-assembly of coat proteins on a membrane, leading to collection of the vesicle cargo and membrane bending to form a bud. Scission at the bud neck releases the vesicle. X-ray crystallography and electron microscopy (EM) have recently generated models of isolated coat components and assembled coats. Here, we review these data to present a structural overview of the three main coats: clathrin, COPII, and COPI. The three coats have similar function, common ancestry, and structural similarities, but exhibit fundamental differences in structure and assembly. We describe the implications of structural similarities and differences for understanding the function, assembly principles, and evolution of vesicle coats.

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