The retrograde pathway is defined by the transport of proteins and lipids from the plasma membrane through endosomes to the Golgi complex, and is essential for a variety of cellular activities. Recycling endosomes are important sorting stations for some retrograde cargo. SMAP2, a GTPase-activating protein (GAP) for Arf1 with a putative clathrin-binding domain, has previously been shown to participate in the retrograde transport of the cholera toxin B-subunit (CTxB) from recycling endosomes. Here, we found that clathrin, a vesicle coat protein, and clathrin adaptor protein complex 1 (AP-1) were present at recycling endosomes and were needed for the retrograde transport of CTxB from recycling endosomes to the Golgi, but not from the plasma membrane to recycling endosomes. SMAP2 immunoprecipitated clathrin and AP-1 through a putative clathrin-binding domain and a CALM-binding domain, and SMAP2 mutants that did not interact with clathrin or AP-1 could not localize to recycling endosomes. Moreover, knockdown of Arf1 suppressed the retrograde transport of CTxB from recycling endosomes to the Golgi. These findings suggest that retrograde transport is mediated by clathrin-coated vesicles from recycling endosomes and that the role of the coat proteins is in the recruitment of Arf GAP to transport vesicles.
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