The roles of transforming growth factor-β (TGF-β) receptor endocytosis in signaling have been investigated in numerous studies, mainly through the use of endocytosis inhibitory treatments, yielding conflicting results. Two potential sources for these discrepancies were the pleiotropic effects of a general blockade of specific internalization pathways and the scarce information on the regulation of the endocytosis of the signal-transducing type I TGF-β receptor (TβRI). Here, we employed extracellularly tagged myc-TβRI (wild type, truncation mutants, and a series of endocytosis-defective and endocytosis-enhanced mutants) to directly investigate the relationship between TβRI endocytosis and signaling. Our findings indicate that TβRI is targeted for constitutive clathrin-mediated endocytosis via a di-leucine (Leu180-Ile181) signal and an acidic cluster motif. Using Smad-dependent transcriptional activation assays and following Smad2/3 nuclear translocation in response to TGF-β stimulation, we show that TβRI endocytosis is dispensable for TGF-β signaling and may play a role in signal termination. Alanine replacement of Leu180-Ile181 led to partial constitutive activation of TβRI, resulting in part from its retention at the plasma membrane and in part from potential alterations of TβRI regulatory interactions in the vicinity of the mutated residues.
- Receptor Serine/Threonine Kinase
- Receptor Structure-Function
- Signal Transduction
- SMAD Transcription Factor
- Transforming Growth Factor-β (TGF-beta)
- TGF-β Receptors