Clathrin-mediated endocytosis is an evolutionarily ancient membrane transport system regulating cellular receptivity and responsiveness. Plasmalemma clathrin-coated structures range from unitary domed assemblies to expansive planar constructions with internal or flanking invaginated buds. Precisely how these morphologically-distinct coats are formed, and whether all are functionally equivalent for selective cargo internalization is still disputed. We have disrupted the genes encoding a set of early arriving clathrin-coat constituents, FCHO1 and FCHO2, in HeLa cells. Endocytic coats do not disappear in this genetic background; rather clustered planar lattices predominate and endocytosis slows, but does not cease. The central linker of FCHO proteins acts as an allosteric regulator of the prime endocytic adaptor, AP-2. By loading AP-2 onto the plasma membrane, FCHO proteins provide a parallel pathway for AP-2 activation and clathrin-coat fabrication. Further, the steady-state morphology of clathrin-coated structures appears to be a manifestation of the availability of the muniscin linker during lattice polymerization.
Keywords: E. coli; TALEN; adaptor; biochemistry; cell biology; clathrin; endocytosis; human.