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J Biol Chem. 2004 May 21;279(21):22522-31. Epub 2004 Mar 15.

Role of mammalian vacuolar protein-sorting proteins in endocytic trafficking of a non-ubiquitinated G protein-coupled receptor to lysosomes.

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry, University of California, San Francisco, California 94143-2140, USA.


Many signaling receptors require covalent modification by ubiquitin for agonist-induced down-regulation via endocytic trafficking to lysosomes, a process that is mediated by a conserved set of endosome-associating proteins also required for vacuolar protein-sorting (VPS) in yeast. The delta opioid receptor (DOR) is a G protein-coupled receptor that can undergo agonist-induced proteolysis via endocytic trafficking to lysosomes but does not require covalent modification by ubiquitin to do so. This raises the question of whether lysosomal down-regulation of this "ubiquitination-independent" GPCR is mediated by a completely distinct biochemical mechanism or if similar VPS machinery is involved. Agonist-induced proteolysis of DOR was significantly inhibited by dominant negative mutant versions of Vps4/Skd1, an AAA-family ATPase required for a late step in lysosomal sorting of ubiquitinated membrane cargo. Furthermore, overexpression and interfering RNA-mediated knockdown indicated that lysosomal trafficking of opioid receptors is also dependent on Hrs, a VPS protein that mediates an early step in lysosomal sorting of ubiquitinated cargo. However, interfering RNA-mediated knockdown of Tsg101, a VPS protein that is essential for an intermediate step of the conserved lysosomal sorting mechanism, did not detectably affect agonist-induced proteolysis of DOR in the same cells in which (ubiquitination-dependent) lysosomal trafficking of epidermal growth factor receptors was clearly inhibited. These results indicate that opioid receptors, despite their ability to undergo efficient agonist-induced trafficking to lysosomes in the absence of covalent modification by ubiquitin, utilize some (Vps4 and Hrs) but perhaps not all (Tsg101) of the VPS machinery required for lysosomal sorting of ubiquitinated membrane cargo.

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