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J Biol Chem. 2001 Jun 1;276(22):19452-60. Epub 2001 Mar 9.

Molecular determinants underlying the formation of stable intracellular G protein-coupled receptor-beta-arrestin complexes after receptor endocytosis*.

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Howard Hughes Medical Institute Laboratories, Departments of Cell Biology and Medicine, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, North Carolina 27710, USA.


beta-Arrestins bind agonist-activated G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) and mediate their desensitization and internalization. Although beta-arrestins dissociate from some receptors at the plasma membrane, such as the beta2 adrenergic receptor, they remain associated with other GPCRs and internalize with them into endocytic vesicles. Formation of stable receptor-beta-arrestin complexes that persist inside the cell impedes receptor resensitization, and the aberrant formation of these complexes may play a role in GPCR-based diseases (Barak, L. S., Oakley, R. H., Laporte, S. A., and Caron, M. G. (2001) Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U. S. A. 98, 93-98). Here, we investigate the molecular determinants responsible for sustained receptor/beta-arrestin interactions. We show in real time and in live human embryonic kidney (HEK-293) cells that a beta-arrestin-2-green fluorescent protein conjugate internalizes into endocytic vesicles with agonist-activated neurotensin-1 receptor, oxytocin receptor, angiotensin II type 1A receptor, and substance P receptor. Using receptor mutagenesis, we demonstrate that the ability of beta-arrestin to remain associated with these receptors is mediated by specific clusters of serine and threonine residues located in the receptor carboxyl-terminal tail. These clusters are remarkably conserved in their position within the carboxyl-terminal domain and serve as primary sites of agonist-dependent receptor phosphorylation. In addition, we identify a beta-arrestin mutant with enhanced affinity for the agonist-activated beta2-adrenergic receptor that traffics into endocytic vesicles with receptors that lack serine/threonine clusters and normally dissociate from wild-type beta-arrestin at the plasma membrane. By identifying receptor and beta-arrestin residues critical for the formation of stable receptor-beta-arrestin complexes, these studies provide novel targets for regulating GPCR responsiveness and treating diseases resulting from abnormal GPCR/beta-arrestin interactions.

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