Cortactin is a component of clathrin-coated pits and participates in receptor-mediated endocytosis

Hong Cao, James D. Orth, Jing Chen, Shaun G. Weller, John E. Heuser, Mark A. McNiven

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

174 Scopus citations


The actin cytoskeleton is believed to contribute to the formation of clathrin-coated pits, although the specific components that connect actin filaments with the endocytic machinery are unclear. Cortactin is an F-actin-associated protein, localizes within membrane ruffles in cultured cells, and is a direct binding partner of the large GTPase dynamin. This direct interaction with a component of the endocytic machinery suggests that cortactin may participate in one or several endocytic processes. Therefore, the goal of this study was to test whether cortactin associates with clathrin-coated pits and participates in receptor-mediated endocytosis. Morphological experiments with either anti-cortactin antibodies or expressed red fluorescence protein-tagged cortactin revealed a striking colocalization of cortactin and clathrin puncta at the ventral plasma membrane. Consistent with these observations, cells microinjected with these antibodies exhibited a marked decrease in the uptake of labeled transferrin and low-density lipoprotein while internalization of the fluid marker dextran was unchanged. Cells expressing the cortactin Src homology three domain also exhibited markedly reduced endocytosis. These findings suggest that cortactin is an important component of the receptor-mediated endocytic machinery, where, together with actin and dynamin, it regulates the scission of clathrin pits from the plasma membrane. Thus, cortactin provides a direct link between the dynamic actin cytoskeleton and the membrane pinchase dynamin that supports vesicle formation during receptor-mediated endocytosis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2162-2170
Number of pages9
JournalMolecular and cellular biology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Mar 2003

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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