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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2007 Jul 24;104(30):12270-5. Epub 2007 Jul 17.

Trk-signaling endosomes are generated by Rac-dependent macroendocytosis.

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Department of Neurobiology and Behavior, State University of New York at Stony Brook, Stony Brook, NY 11794-5230, USA.


Why neurotrophins and their Trk receptors promote neuronal differentiation and survival whereas receptor tyrosine kinases for other growth factors, such as EGF, do not, has been a long-standing question in neurobiology. We provide evidence that one difference lies in the selective ability of Trk to generate long-lived signaling endosomes. We show that Trk endocytosis is distinguished from the classical clathrin-based endocytosis of EGF receptor (EGFR). Although Trk and EGFR each stimulate membrane ruffling, only Trk undergoes both selective and specific macroendocytosis at ruffles, which uniquely requires the Rho-GTPase, Rac, and the trafficking protein, Pincher. This process leads to Trk-signaling endosomes, which are immature multivesicular bodies that retain Rab5. In contrast, EGFR endosomes rapidly exchange Rab5 for Rab7, thereby transiting into late-endosomes/lysosomes for degradation. Sustained endosomal signaling by Trk does not reflect intrinsic differences between Trk and EGFR, because each elicits long-term Erk-kinase activation from the cell surface. Thus, a population of stable Trk endosomes, formed by specialized macroendocytosis in neurons, provides a privileged endosome-based system for propagation of signals to the nucleus.

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