Porcine brain coated vesicles were isolated from crude fractions of tissue homogenates by affinity separation using anticlathrin-coated STaphylococcus aureus (Staph A) cells as a solid-phase immunoadsorbent. The specificity of the immunoadsorption was monitored by SDS PAGE analysis and by competitive ELISA assays. SDS PAGE of the material immunoadsorbed from a fraction of porcine bran smooth microsomes showed a selective enrichment in a 180,000 mol wt protein. In an ELISA assay, this protein competed effectively--in binding anticlathrin--with clathrin extracted from a coated vesicle preparation. When the immunoadsorbed fraction was examined by electron microscopy, coated vesicles and vesicle-free cages were found forming a quasicontinuous monolayer on the surface of the Staph A cells. Other particles were not adsorbed, and the controls were free of either clathrin cages or coated vesicles. Upon extensive dialysis (against MES buffer, pH 6.5), similar cages appeared on the surface of anticlathrin-coated Staph A cells reacted with extracted clathrin. This study demonstrates that anticlathrin-coated Staph A cells can be used for the isolation and purification of a homogeneous population of coated vesicles. In addition, the ability of extracted clathrin to bind and to polymerize onto the Staph A cells raises the possibility of using this technique to further explore the conditions required for cage and/or vesicle reconstitution.

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