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J Biol Chem. 2004 Apr 16;279(16):16657-61. Epub 2004 Feb 25.

Analysis of clathrin-mediated endocytosis of epidermal growth factor receptor by RNA interference.

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Department of Pharmacology, University of Colorado Health Sciences Center, Denver, Colorado 80111, USA.


To identify proteins that participate in clathrin-mediated endocytosis of the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR), 13 endocytic proteins were depleted in HeLa cells using highly efficient small interfering RNAs that were designed using a novel selection algorithm. The effects of small interfering RNAs on the ligand-induced endocytosis of EGFR were compared with those effects on the constitutive internalization of the transferrin receptor. The knock-downs of clathrin heavy chain and dynamin produced maximal inhibitory effects on the internalization of both receptors. Depletion of alpha, beta2, or micro2 subunits of AP-2 reduced EGF and transferrin internalization rates by 40-60%. Down-regulation of several accessory proteins individually had no effect on endocytosis but caused significant inhibition of EGF and transferrin endocytosis when the homologous proteins were depleted simultaneously. Surprisingly, knockdown of clathrin-assembly lymphoid myeloid leukemia protein, CALM, did not influence transferrin endocytosis but considerably affected EGFR internalization. Thus, CALM is the second protein besides Grb2 that appears to play a specific role in EGFR endocytosis. This study demonstrates that the efficient gene silencing by rationally designed small interfering RNA can be used as an approach to functionally analyze the entire cellular machineries, such as the clathrin-coated pits and vesicles.

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