Bivalent Motif-Ear Interactions Mediate the Association of the Accessory Protein Tepsin with the AP-4 Adaptor Complex [Cell Biology]

November 5th, 2015 by Mattera, R., Guardia, C. M., Sidhu, S., Bonifacino, J. S.

The heterotetrameric (ϵ-β4-μ4-σ4) complex adaptor protein 4 (AP-4) is a component of a non-clathrin coat involved in protein sorting at the trans-Golgi network (TGN). Considerable interest in this complex has arisen from the recent discovery that mutations in each of its four subunits are the cause of a congenital intellectual disability and movement disorder in humans. Despite its physiological importance, however, the structure and function of this coat remain poorly understood. To investigate the assembly of the AP-4 coat, we dissected the determinants of interaction of AP-4 with its only known accessory protein, the ENTH/VHS-domain-containing protein tepsin. Using a variety of protein interaction assays, we found that tepsin comprises two phylogenetically conserved peptide motifs, [GS]LFXG[ML]X[LV] and S[AV]F[SA]FLN, within its C-terminal unstructured region, which interact with the C-terminal ear (or appendage) domains of the β4 and ϵ subunits of AP-4, respectively. Structure-based mutational analyses mapped the binding site for the [GS]LFXG[ML]X[LV] motif to a conserved, hydrophobic surface on the β4-ear platform fold. Both peptide-ear interactions are required for efficient association of tepsin with AP-4, and for recruitment of tepsin to the TGN. The bivalency of the interactions increases the avidity of tepsin for AP-4 and may enable cross-linking of multiple AP-4 heterotetramers, thus contributing to the assembly of the AP-4 coat. In addition to revealing critical aspects of this coat, our findings extend the paradigm of peptide-ear interactions, previously established for clathrin-AP-1/AP-2 coats, to a non-clathrin coat.