Background: The appendage domain of the gammaCOP subunit of the COPI vesicle coat bears a striking structural resemblance to adaptin-family appendages despite limited primary sequence homology. Both the gammaCOP appendage domain and an equivalent region on betaCOP contain the FxxxW motif; the conservation of this motif suggested the existence of a functional appendage domain in betaCOP.
Results: Sequence comparisons in combination with structural prediction tools show that the fold of the COOH-terminus of Sec26p is strongly predicted to closely mimic that of adaptin-family appendages. Deletion of the appendage domain of Sec26p results in inviability in yeast, over-expression of the deletion construct is dominant negative and mutagenesis of this region identifies residues critical for function. The ArfGAP Glo3p was identified via suppression screening as a potential downstream modulator of Sec26p in a manner that is independent of the GAP activity of Glo3p but requires the presence of the COOH-terminal ISS motifs.
Conclusion: Together, these results indicate an essential function for the predicted betaCOP appendage and suggest that both COPI appendages perform a biologically active regulatory role with a structure related to adaptin-family appendage domains.