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Title: β-arrestin mediates communication between plasma membrane and intracellular GPCRs to regulate signaling

It has become increasingly apparent that G protein-coupled receptor (GPCR) localization is a master regulator of cell signaling. However, the molecular mechanisms involved in this process are not well understood. To date, observations of intracellular GPCR activation can be organized into two categories: a dependence on OCT3 cationic channel-permeable ligands or the necessity of endocytic trafficking. Using CXC chemokine receptor 4 (CXCR4) as a model, we identified a third mechanism of intracellular GPCR signaling. We show that independent of membrane permeable ligands and endocytosis, upon stimulation, plasma membrane and internal pools of CXCR4 are post-translationally modified and collectively regulate EGR1 transcription. We found that β-arrestin-1 (arrestin 2) is necessary to mediate communication between plasma membrane and internal pools of CXCR4. Notably, these observations may explain that while CXCR4 overexpression is highly correlated with cancer metastasis and mortality, plasma membrane localization is not. Together these data support a model where a small initial pool of plasma membrane-localized GPCRs are capable of activating internal receptor-dependent signaling events.

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Publication Date:
Journal Name:
Communications Biology
Nature Publishing Group
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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  1. The trafficking of G protein coupled‐receptors (GPCRs) is one of the most exciting areas in cell biology because of recent advances demonstrating that GPCR signaling is spatially encoded. GPCRs, acting in a diverse array of physiological systems, can have differential signaling consequences depending on their subcellular localization. At the plasma membrane, GPCR organization could fine‐tune the initial stages of receptor signaling by determining the magnitude of signaling and the type of effectors to which receptors can couple. This organization is mediated by the lipid composition of the plasma membrane, receptor‐receptor interactions, and receptor interactions with intracellular scaffolding proteins. GPCR organization is subsequently changed by ligand binding and the regulated endocytosis of these receptors. Activated GPCRs can modulate the dynamics of their own endocytosis through changing clathrin‐coated pit dynamics, and through the scaffolding adaptor protein β‐arrestin. This endocytic regulation has signaling consequences, predominantly through modulation of the MAPK cascade. This review explores what is known about receptor sorting at the plasma membrane, protein partners that control receptor endocytosis, and the ways in which receptor sorting at the plasma membrane regulates downstream trafficking and signaling.

  2. In animals, endocytosis of a seven-transmembrane GPCR is mediated by arrestins to propagate or arrest cytoplasmic G protein–mediated signaling, depending on the bias of the receptor or ligand, which determines how much one transduction pathway is used compared to another. InArabidopsis thaliana, GPCRs are not required for G protein–coupled signaling because the heterotrimeric G protein complex spontaneously exchanges nucleotide. Instead, the seven-transmembrane protein AtRGS1 modulates G protein signaling through ligand-dependent endocytosis, which initiates derepression of signaling without the involvement of canonical arrestins. Here, we found that endocytosis of AtRGS1 initiated from two separate pools of plasma membrane: sterol-dependent domains and a clathrin-accessible neighborhood, each with a select set of discriminators, activators, and candidate arrestin-like adaptors. Ligand identity (either the pathogen-associated molecular pattern flg22 or the sugar glucose) determined the origin of AtRGS1 endocytosis. Different trafficking origins and trajectories led to different cellular outcomes. Thus, in this system, compartmentation with its associated signalosome architecture drives biased signaling.

  3. Abstract Background information

    Phosphatidylinositol (PI) is an essential phospholipid, critical to membrane bilayers. The complete deacylation of PI by B‐type phospholipases produces intracellular and extracellular glycerophosphoinositol (GPI). Extracellular GPI is transported into the cell via Git1, a member of the Major Facilitator Superfamily of transporters at the yeast plasma membrane. Internalized GPI is degraded to produce inositol, phosphate and glycerol, thereby contributing to these pools.GIT1gene expression is controlled by nutrient balance, with phosphate or inositol starvation increasingGIT1expression to stimulate GPI uptake. However, less is known about control of Git1 protein levels or localization.


    We find that the α‐arrestins, an important class of protein trafficking adaptor, regulate Git1 localization and this is dependent upon their interaction with the ubiquitin ligase Rsp5. Specifically, α‐arrestin Aly2 stimulates Git1 trafficking to the vacuole under basal conditions, but in response to GPI‐treatment, either Aly1 or Aly2 promote Git1 vacuole trafficking. Cell surface retention of Git1, as occurs inaly1∆ aly2∆ cells, is linked to impaired growth in the presence of exogenous GPI and results in increased uptake of radiolabeled GPI, suggesting that accumulation of GPI somehow causes cellular toxicity. Regulation of α‐arrestin Aly1 by the protein phosphatase calcineurin improves steady‐state and substrate‐induced trafficking of Git1, however, calcineurin playsmore »a larger role in Git1 trafficking beyond regulation of α‐arrestins. Interestingly, loss of Aly1 and Aly2 increased phosphatidylinositol‐3‐phosphate on the limiting membrane of the vacuole, and this was further exacerbated by GPI addition, suggesting that the effect is partially linked to Git1. Loss of Aly1 and Aly2 leads to increased incorporation of inositol label from [3H]‐inositol‐labelled GPI into PI, confirming that internalized GPI influences PI balance and indicating a role for the a‐arrestins in this regulation.


    The α‐arrestins Aly1 and Aly2 are novel regulators of Git1 trafficking with previously unanticipated roles in controlling phospholipid distribution and balance.


    To our knowledge, this is the first example of α‐arrestin regulation of phosphatidyliniositol‐3‐phosphate levels. In future studies it will be exciting to determine if other α‐arrestins similarly alter PI and PIPs to change the cellular landscape.

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