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J Cell Sci. 1996 Apr;109 ( Pt 4):777-86.

Plant clathrin heavy chain: sequence analysis and restricted localisation in growing pollen tubes.

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Biochemistry Department, University of Cambridge, UK.


Clathrin-coated vesicles were isolated from soybean (Glycine max L.) cells in suspension culture and their purity was assessed using SDS-PAGE, peptide sequencing and electron microscopy. Antibodies raised to these coated vesicles were used to immunoscreen a soybean cDNA library in lambda gt11 and isolate a partial clone of the clathrin heavy chain (HC) gene. Full-length cDNA for soybean clathrin HC was deduced by 5' and 3' cDNA amplification. The cDNA encodes an amino acid sequence of 1,700 residues, which is slightly larger than rat clathrin HC and may account for the reduced mobility of plant clathrin on SDS-PAGE. Insertion of these extra residues is largely confined to the amino and carboxy termini. Other domains within the heavy chain arms, including those implicated in light chain binding and trimerisation, are relatively well conserved between eukaryotes. A computer algorithm to determine alpha-helical coiled-coil structures reveals that only one domain, aligning to residues 1,460-1,489 in rat clathrin HC, has a high probability for coiled-coil structure in all five eukaryotic clathrin HC sequences. This provides further evidence that the interaction between clathrin heavy and light chains is mediated by three bundles of coiled-coils near to the carboxy terminus. In analysing the role of plant clathrin in endocytotic trafficking, as against trafficking from the Golgi apparatus to the vacuole, our attention was focused on membrane recycling in tip-growing pollen tubes. These rapidly growing cells are highly secretory and require a high level of plasma membrane recycling to maintain the tube tip architecture. Monoclonal antibodies to plant clathrin HC confirmed that coated vesicles are relatively abundant in tip-growing pollen tubes of Lilium longiflorum. This analysis also demonstrated that a high proportion of the clathrin present is in an assembled state, suggesting a highly dynamic trafficking pathway. Immunofluorescence analysis of pollen tubes revealed that clathrin localises to the plasma membrane at the apex of the pollen tube tip, which is consistent with high levels of clathrin-mediated membrane recycling. The use of these reagents in conjunction with tip-growing pollen tubes has created a unique opportunity to examine the basis for constitutive endocytosis, so that the more complex question of receptor-mediated pathways in plants can also be assessed.

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