During clathrin-mediated endocytosis (CME), flat plasma membrane is remodeled to produce nanometer-scale vesicles. The mechanisms underlying this remodeling are not completely understood. The ability of clathrin to bind membranes of distinct geometries casts uncertainty on its specific role in curvature generation/stabilization. Here, we used nanopatterning to produce substrates for live-cell imaging, with U-shaped features that bend the ventral plasma membrane of a cell into shapes resembling energetically unfavorable CME intermediates. This induced membrane curvature recruits CME proteins, promoting endocytosis. Upon AP2, FCHo1/2, or clathrin knockdown, CME on flat substrates is severely diminished. However, induced membrane curvature recruits CME proteins in the absence of FCHo1/2 or clathrin and rescues CME dynamics/cargo uptake after clathrin (but not AP2 or FCHo1/2) knockdown. Induced membrane curvature enhances CME protein recruitment upon branched actin assembly inhibition under elevated membrane tension. These data establish that membrane curvature assists in CME nucleation and that the essential function of clathrin during CME is to facilitate curvature evolution, rather than scaffold protein recruitment.
Actin assembly provides force for a multitude of cellular processes. Compared to actin-assembly-based force production during cell migration, relatively little is understood about how actin assembly generates pulling forces for vesicle formation. Here, cryo-electron tomography identified actin filament number, organization, and orientation during clathrin-mediated endocytosis in human SK-MEL-2 cells, showing that force generation is robust despite variance in network organization. Actin dynamics simulations incorporating a measured branch angle indicate that sufficient force to drive membrane internalization is generated through polymerization and that assembly is triggered from ∼4 founding “mother” filaments, consistent with tomography data. Hip1R actin filament anchoring points are present along the entire endocytic invagination, where simulations show that it is key to pulling force generation, and along the neck, where it targets filament growth and makes internalization more robust. Actin organization described here allowed direct translation of structure to mechanism with broad implications for other actin-driven processes.
We gathered for a picnic in beautiful North Berkeley to celebrate Matt’s time in the lab. We wish Matt the best in his new adventure and look forward to hearing about his lab’s accomplishments!
Cheers to Matt!
Matt catches up with his graduate school advisor, Tom Pollard, who happens to be one of our newest lab members.