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J Biol Chem. 1995 Apr 21;270(16):9067-73.

An internalization motif is created in the cytoplasmic domain of the transferrin receptor by substitution of a tyrosine at the first position of a predicted tight turn.

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Department of Pathology, Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, New York, New York 10032, USA.


Receptors are internalized from the plasma membrane at approximately 10 times the rate of bulk membrane. The predominant model for the motif that promotes rapid internalization proposes a requirement for a tyrosine located in the first position of a tight turn. In this report we show that an internalization motif can be created de novo by substituting a tyrosine for the first or last residues of a tetrapeptide GDNS (residues 31-34) that is predicted to form a tight turn within the cytoplasmic domain of the human transferrin receptor. These substitutions restore wild-type levels of internalization to transferrin receptors that are poorly internalized due to missense mutations in the native internalization motif. The introduction of a tyrosine at the first or last position of the GDNS tetrapeptide in a transferrin receptor containing an unmodified wild-type internalization motif significantly increases the internalization rate above that of the wild-type receptor. Our results indicate that a functional novel internalization motif can be created by placing specific aromatic amino acids within the overall structure of an existing beta-turn in a cytoplasmic domain of a receptor.

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