Structure of clathrin-coated vesicles from small-angle scattering experiments

J.S. Pedersen

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    Previously published small-angle neutron and X-ray scattering data from coated vesicles, reassembled coats, and stripped vesicles have been analyzed in terms of one common model. The neutron data sets include contrast variation measurements at three different D2O solvent concentrations. The model used for interpreting the data has spherical symmetry and explicitly takes into account polydispersity, which is described by a Gaussian distribution. A constant thickness of the clathrin coats is assumed. The fitting of the model shows that the coated vesicles consist of a low-density outer protein shell (clathrin) and a central protein shell (accessory polypeptides and receptors) of approximately six times higher density. For the X-ray scattering and neutron contrast variation data. the polydispersity of the samples is of the order of 90 angstrom (full-width-at-half-maximum value) and the average outer radius is approximately 400 angstrom. The inner high-density shell has inner and outer radii of 115 and 190 angstrom, respectively. A simultaneous fit to the three neutron contrast variation data sets identifies the lipid membrane with a thickness of 40 angstrom and an outer radius of 196 angstrom. Thus, the membrane and the high-density protein shell overlap in space, which shows that the lipid membrane contains protein. The molecular mass of the average particle is 27 x 10(6) Da. The coated vesicles consist, on average, of approximately 85% protein and 15% lipids. About 40% of the protein mass is situated in the central high-density shell, which gives a large amount of protein in the lipid membrane. The densities of the central shell and the lipid membrane show that the hydration is small in the central region. A comparison of the total mass, the mass distribution, and the structure of the average-size particles with the barrel structure shows that the accessory polypeptides are incorporated in the lipid membrane. The results from the neutron data for the reassembled coats show that the structure of these particles is very similar to the structure of the native coats. The main difference is a higher density of the central protein shell, which shows that the membrane is replaced by protein in the reassembled coats.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalEuropean Biophysics Journal With Biophysics Letters
    Issue number2
    Pages (from-to)79-95
    Publication statusPublished - 1993


    • Clathrin
    • Coated vesicles
    • Reassembled coats
    • Small-angle X-ray and neutron scattering


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