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J Biol Chem. 2003 Aug 1;278(31):28950-60. Epub 2003 May 18.

Cbl-mediated ubiquitinylation is required for lysosomal sorting of epidermal growth factor receptor but is dispensable for endocytosis.

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  • 1Division of Rheumatology, Immunology and Allergy, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts 02115, USA.


Ligand-induced down-regulation controls the signaling potency of the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR/ErbB1). Overexpression studies have identified Cbl-mediated ubiquitinylation of EGFR as a mechanism of ligand-induced EGFR down-regulation. However, the role of endogenous Cbl in EGFR down-regulation and the precise step in the endocytic pathway regulated by Cbl remain unclear. Using Cbl-/- mouse embryonic fibroblast cell lines, we demonstrate that endogenous Cbl is essential for ligand-induced ubiquitinylation and efficient degradation of EGFR. Further analyses using Chinese hamster ovary cells with a temperature-sensitive defect in ubiquitinylation confirm a crucial role of the ubiquitin machinery in Cbl-mediated EGFR degradation. However, internalization into early endosomes did not require Cbl function or an intact ubiquitin pathway. Confocal immunolocalization studies indicated that Cbl-dependent ubiquitinylation plays a critical role at the early endosome to late endosome/lysosome sorting step of EGFR down-regulation. These findings establish Cbl as the major endogenous ubiquitin ligase responsible for EGFR degradation, and show that the critical role of Cbl-mediated ubiquitinylation is at the level of endosomal sorting, rather than at the level of internalization.

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