A high precision survey of the molecular dynamics of mammalian clathrin-mediated endocytosis

PLoS Biol. 2011 Mar;9(3):e1000604. doi: 10.1371/journal.pbio.1000604. Epub 2011 Mar 22.


Dual colour total internal reflection fluorescence microscopy is a powerful tool for decoding the molecular dynamics of clathrin-mediated endocytosis (CME). Typically, the recruitment of a fluorescent protein-tagged endocytic protein was referenced to the disappearance of spot-like clathrin-coated structure (CCS), but the precision of spot-like CCS disappearance as a marker for canonical CME remained unknown. Here we have used an imaging assay based on total internal reflection fluorescence microscopy to detect scission events with a resolution of ∼ 2 s. We found that scission events engulfed comparable amounts of transferrin receptor cargo at CCSs of different sizes and CCS did not always disappear following scission. We measured the recruitment dynamics of 34 types of endocytic protein to scission events: Abp1, ACK1, amphiphysin1, APPL1, Arp3, BIN1, CALM, CIP4, clathrin light chain (Clc), cofilin, coronin1B, cortactin, dynamin1/2, endophilin2, Eps15, Eps8, epsin2, FBP17, FCHo1/2, GAK, Hip1R, lifeAct, mu2 subunit of the AP2 complex, myosin1E, myosin6, NECAP, N-WASP, OCRL1, Rab5, SNX9, synaptojanin2β1, and syndapin2. For each protein we aligned ∼ 1,000 recruitment profiles to their respective scission events and constructed characteristic "recruitment signatures" that were grouped, as for yeast, to reveal the modular organization of mammalian CME. A detailed analysis revealed the unanticipated recruitment dynamics of SNX9, FBP17, and CIP4 and showed that the same set of proteins was recruited, in the same order, to scission events at CCSs of different sizes and lifetimes. Collectively these data reveal the fine-grained temporal structure of CME and suggest a simplified canonical model of mammalian CME in which the same core mechanism of CME, involving actin, operates at CCSs of diverse sizes and lifetimes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Actins / metabolism
  • Adaptor Proteins, Signal Transducing / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Clathrin / metabolism*
  • Coated Pits, Cell-Membrane / metabolism
  • Dynamins / metabolism
  • Endocytosis*
  • Mammals / metabolism*
  • Mice
  • Molecular Dynamics Simulation*
  • Myosins / metabolism
  • NIH 3T3 Cells
  • Polymerization
  • Protein Binding
  • Protein Structure, Tertiary
  • Time Factors


  • Actins
  • Adaptor Proteins, Signal Transducing
  • Clathrin
  • Myosins
  • Dynamins