Coat proteins appear to play a general role in intracellular protein trafficking by coordinating a membrane budding event with cargo selection. Here we show that the AP-2 adaptor, a clathrin-associated coat-protein complex that nucleates clathrin-coated vesicle formation at the cell surface, can also initiate the assembly of normal polyhedral clathrin coats on dense lysosomes under physiological conditions in vitro. Clathrin coat formation on lysosomes is temperature dependent, displays an absolute requirement for ATP, and occurs in both semi-intact cells and on purified lysosomes, suggesting that clathrin-coated vesicles might regulate retrograde membrane traffic out of the lysosomal compartment.

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