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Keywords:

  • clathrin;
  • endocytosis;
  • self-assembly;
  • vesicle coat

The clathrin triskelion self-assembles into a lattice that coats transport vesicles participating in several key membrane traffic pathways. A new model of a clathrin lattice at approximately 8 Å resolution, generated by Fotin et al. (Nature 2004;432:573) confirmed the basic structural features of clathrin that were defined over many years of biochemical and structural analysis. In addition, new structural features of the clathrin trimerization domain were modelled for the first time, and the predictions correlated well with previous biochemical studies. A second model, placing auxilin within the lattice suggested a possible lattice contact targeted during lattice disassembly (Fotin et al. Nature 2004;432:649). This contact predicts interactions of the newly modelled trimerization domain with a newly defined extension of the clathrin triskelion, the ankle domain. These aspects of the new models were emphasized in the published reports describing them and in recent commentary (Brodsky, Nature 2004;432:568). Also emerging from the new models is a better picture of how the clathrin structure is distributed throughout the lattice, allowing the first predictions of interacting molecular interfaces contributing to contacts in the assembled lattice. The focus of this interchange is to emphasize these additional features revealed by the recently published models from Fotin and colleagues.