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Biochem J. 2010 May 13;428(2):235-45. doi: 10.1042/BJ20100139.

Importance of regions outside the cytoplasmic tail of G-protein-coupled receptors for phosphorylation and dephosphorylation.

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  • 1Department of Pharmacology and Physiology, University of Rochester Medical Center, Rochester, NY 14642, U.S.A.


Two GPCRs (G-protein-coupled receptors), TRHR (thyrotropin-releasing hormone receptor) and beta(2)AR (beta(2)-adrenergic receptor), are regulated in distinct manners. Following agonist binding, TRHR undergoes rapid phosphorylation attributable to GRKs (GPCR kinases); beta(2)AR is phosphorylated by both second messenger-activated PKA (protein kinase A) and GRKs with slower kinetics. TRHR co-internalizes with arrestin, whereas beta(2)AR recruits arrestin, but internalizes without it. Both receptors are dephosphorylated following agonist removal, but TRHR is dephosphorylated much more rapidly while it remains at the plasma membrane. We generated chimaeras swapping the C-terminal domains of these receptors to clarify the role of different receptor regions in phosphorylation, internalization and dephosphorylation. beta(2)AR with a TRHR cytoplasmic tail (beta(2)AR-TRHR) and TRHR with a beta(2)AR tail (TRHR-beta(2)AR) signalled to G-proteins normally. beta(2)AR-TRHR was phosphorylated well at the PKA site in the third intracellular loop, but poorly at GRK sites in the tail, whereas TRHR-beta(2)AR was phosphorylated strongly at GRK sites in the tail (Ser(355)/Ser(356) of the beta(2)AR). Both chimaeric receptors exhibited prolonged, but weak, association with arrestin at the plasma membrane, but high-affinity arrestin interactions and extensive co-internalization of receptor with arrestin required a phosphorylated TRHR tail. In contrast, swapping C-terminal domains did not change the rates of phosphorylation and dephosphorylation or the dependence of TRHR dephosphorylation on the length of agonist exposure. Thus the interactions of GPCRs with GRKs and phosphatases are determined not simply by the amino acid sequences of the substrates, but by regions outside the cytoplasmic tails.

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