Clathrin triskelions form polyhedral cages with hexagonal and pentagonal faces when dialyzed against suitable assembly buffers. However, when the buffer is made 12% saturated in ammonium sulfate and the dialysis is performed at 4 degrees C, clathrin polymerizes into cubes. The cube is constructed from eight triskelions with one at each corner. The edge length of the cube is approximately 45 nm, equivalent to the length of the leg of a triskelion. Thus, each edge of the cube is composed of two antiparallel legs overlapping over their whole length. The interactions between the legs in the cube are a subset of those postulated to occur in cages. Indeed, the cube can be derived from a pentagonal dodecahedron by removing 12 of the 20 triskelions with only slight adjustment of the legs of the remaining triskelions. The cube forms regular arrays and appears to be a favorable species for crystallization of clathrin.

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