We have applied agarose gel electrophoresis as a novel step in the purification of clathrin-coated vesicles. Preparations of coated vesicles obtained by sedimentation velocity and isopycnic centrifugation are resolved into two distinct fractions upon electrophoresis. The slower migrating fraction contains smooth vesicles, whereas the faster contains only coated vesicles and empty clathrin coats. The faster mobility of the coated vesicles is primarily caused by the acidic nature of clathrin. Coated vesicles from three different cell types have different mobilities. In each case, however, all of the major polypeptides previously attributed to coated vesicles comigrate with the now homogeneous particles, even though a powerful ATPase activity is completely removed.

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