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J Biol Chem. 1995 Mar 3;270(9):4325-33.

Endocytosis and lysosomal targeting of epidermal growth factor receptors are mediated by distinct sequences independent of the tyrosine kinase domain.

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Department of Pathology, University of Utah School of Medicine, Salt Lake City 84132.


Ligand-induced internalization of the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) leads to accelerated receptor degradation. Two models have been proposed to explain this. In the first model, induced internalization expands the intracellular pool of receptors, leading to enhanced lysosomal targeting. The second model proposes that activation of intrinsic receptor kinase activity induces inward vesiculation of endosomes, thus interrupting receptor recycling. To test these models, we created EGFR mutants that lack the conserved tyrosine kinase domain, but retain different parts of the distal carboxyl terminus regulatory region. Mutants lacking all distal regulatory sequences underwent slow internalization (0.02 min-1) and turnover (t1/2 approximately 24 h), similar to unoccupied, holo-EGFR. Mutant receptors that lacked the kinase domain, but retained the entire distal regulatory domain, were constitutively internalized and targeted to lysosomes, even in the absence of EGF. The turnover of these receptors (t1/2 approximately 11 h) was similar to that of occupied, kinase-active holo-EGFR (t1/2 approximately 9.5 h). These results show that receptor tyrosine kinase activity is not required for the targeting of EGFR to lysosomes. Receptor mutants which expressed previously identified endocytic sequences underwent rapid internalization. Unexpectedly, enhanced turnover of EGFR mutants required additional sequences located between residues 945 and 991 in the holo-EGFR. Thus, internalization and lysosomal targeting of EGFR are separate processes mediated by distinct sequences. Our results indicate that induced internalization is necessary, but not sufficient, for enhanced EGFR degradation. Instead, down-regulation requires exposure of previously cryptic internalization and lysosomal targeting sequences. Occupied EGFR thus appear to be handled by the endocytic machinery in the same fashion as other constitutively internalized or lysosomally targeted receptors.

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