Endocytosis of EGFR requires its kinase activity and N-terminal transmembrane dimerization motif

R. Heukers, P.J. Vermeulen, F. Fereidouni, A.N. Bader, J. Voortman, R.C. Roovers, H.C. Gerritsen, P.M.P. van Bergen en Henegouwen

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EGFR signaling is attenuated by endocytosis and degradation of receptor-ligand complexes in lysosomes. Endocytosis of EGFR is known to be regulated by multiple post-translational modifications. The observation that prevention of these modifications does not block endocytosis completely, suggests the involvement of other mechanism(s). Recently, receptor clustering has been suggested to induce internalization of multiple types of membrane receptors. However, the mechanism of clustering-induced internalization remains unknown. We have used biparatopic antibody fragments from llama (VHHs) to induce EGFR clustering without stimulating tyrosine kinase activity. Using this approach, we have found an essential role for the N-terminal GG4-like dimerization motif in the transmembrane domain (TMD) for clustering-induced internalization. Moreover, conventional EGF-induced receptor internalization depends exclusively on this TMD dimerization and kinase activity. Mutations in this dimerization motif eventually lead to reduced EGFR degradation and sustained signaling. We propose a novel role for the TMD dimerization motif in the negative-feedback control of EGFR. The widely conserved nature of GG4-like dimerization motifs in transmembrane proteins suggests a general role for these motifs in clustering-induced internalization.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4900-4912
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Cell Science
Issue number21
Publication statusPublished - 2013


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