Structure of the complete, membrane-assembled COPII coat reveals a complex interaction network

Joshua Hutchings, Viktoriya G Stancheva, Nick R Brown, Alan C M Cheung, Elizabeth A Miller, Giulia Zanetti*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

21 Citations (Scopus)
135 Downloads (Pure)


The COPII coat mediates Endoplasmic Reticulum (ER) to Golgi trafficking for thousands of proteins. Five essential coat proteins assemble at the ER into a characteristic two-layer architecture, which recruits cargo proteins whilst sculpting membrane carriers with diverse morphologies. How coat architecture drives membrane curvature whilst ensuring morphological plasticity is largely unknown, yet is central to understanding mechanisms of carrier formation. Here, we use an established reconstitution system to visualise the complete, membrane-assembled COPII coat with unprecedented detail by cryo-electron tomography and subtomogram averaging. We discover a network of interactions within and between coat layers, including multiple interfaces that were previously unknown. We reveal the physiological importance of these interactions using genetic and biochemical approaches. A newly resolved Sec31 C22 terminal domain provides order to the coat and is essential to drive membrane curvature in cells. Moreover, a novel outer coat assembly mode provides a basis for coat adaptability to varying membrane curvatures. Furthermore, a newly resolved region of Sec23, which we term the L-loop, imparts coat stability and in part dictates membrane shape. Our results suggest these interactions collectively contribute to coat organisation and membrane curvature, providing a structural framework to understand regulatory mechanisms of COPII trafficking and secretion.
Original languageEnglish
Article number2034 (2021)
Number of pages13
JournalNature Communications
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2021


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