Reversible phosphorylation has long been an attractive mechanism to control cycles of coat assembly and disassembly during clathrin-mediated endocytosis. Many of the coat proteins are phosphorylated in vivo and in vitro. Our work has focused on the role of phosphorylation of the $#x03BC;2 subunit of AP-2 (adaptor protein 2), which appears to be necessary for efficient cargo recruitment. Studies to probe the regulation of $#x03BC;2 phosphorylation demonstrated that clathrin is a specific activator of the $#x03BC;2 kinase, and, in permeabilized cells, cargo sequestration, driven by exogenously added clathrin, results in elevated levels of $#x03BC;2 phosphorylation. Furthermore, phosphorylated $#x03BC;2 is mainly associated with assembled clathrin in vivo and its steady-state level is strongly reduced in cells depleted of clathrin heavy chain. Our results imply a central role for clathrin in the regulation of cargo selection via modulation of phospho-$#x03BC;2 levels. This is therefore a novel regulatory role for clathrin that is independent of its structural role and that provides elegant spatial control of AP-2 and cargo interactions, ensuring that AP-2 is only activated at the correct cellular location and in the correct functional context. Ongoing studies are exploring further the roles of reversible phosphorylation in the coated vesicle cycle.
- © 2005 The Biochemical Society