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J Biol Chem. 1995 Jun 2;270(22):13503-11.

EEA1, an early endosome-associated protein. EEA1 is a conserved alpha-helical peripheral membrane protein flanked by cysteine "fingers" and contains a calmodulin-binding IQ motif.

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Department of Pathology, National University of Singapore.


Early endosomes are cellular compartments receiving endocytosed material and sorting them for vesicular transport to late endosomes and lysosomes or for recycling to the plasma membrane. We have cloned a human cDNA encoding an evolutionarily conserved 180-kDa protein on early endosomes named EEA1 (Early Endosome Antigen1). EEA1 is associated with early endosomes since it co-localizes by immunofluorescence with the transferrin receptor and with Rab5 but not with Rab7. Immunoelectron microscopy shows that it is associated with tubulovesicular early endosomes containing internalized bovine serum albumin-gold. EEA1 is a hydrophilic peripheral membrane protein present in cytosol and membrane fractions. It partitions in the aqueous phase after Triton X-114 solubilization and is extracted from membranes by 0.3 M NaCl. It is a predominantly alpha-helical protein sharing 17-20% sequence identity with the myosins and contains a calmodulin-binding IQ motif. It is flanked by metal-binding, cysteine "finger" motifs. The COOH-terminal fingers, Cys-X2-Cys-X12-Cys-X2-Cys and Cys-X2-Cys-X16-Cys-X2-Cys, are present within a region that is strikingly homologous with Saccharomyces cerevisiae FAB1 protein required for endocytosis and with Caenorhabditis elegans ZK632. These fingers also show limited conservation with S. cerevisiae VAC1, Vps11, and Vps18p proteins implicated in vacuolar transport. We propose that EEA1 is required for vesicular transport of proteins through early endosomes and that its finger motifs are required for this activity.

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