Endocytosis of Ubiquitylation-Deficient EGFR Mutants via Clathrin-Coated Pits is Mediated by Ubiquitylation

Arola Fortian, Lai K. Dionne, Sun H. Hong, Woong Kim, Steven P. Gygi, Simon C. Watkins, Alexander Sorkin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


We used RNA interference screen, mass spectrometry and fluorescence microscopy to demonstrate that endocytosis of ubiquitylation-deficient mutants of the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) via clathrin-coated pits is mediated by ubiquitylation. The model of EGFR endocytosis is proposed whereby two redundant mechanisms involving ubiquitylation and receptor interactions with AP-2 contribute to EGFR endocytosis in a stochastic fashion. Signaling by epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) is controlled by endocytosis. However, mechanisms of EGFR endocytosis remain poorly understood. Here, we found that the EGFR mutant lacking known ubiquitylation, acetylation and clathrin adaptor AP-2-binding sites (21KRΔAP2) was internalized at relatively high rates via the clathrin-dependent pathway in human duodenal adenocarcinoma HuTu-80 cells. RNA interference analysis revealed that this residual internalization is strongly inhibited by depletion of Grb2 and the E2 ubiquitin-conjugating enzyme UbcH5b/c, and partially affected by depletion of the E3 ubiquitin ligase Cbl and ubiquitin-binding adaptors, indicating that an ubiquitylation process is involved. Several new ubiquitin conjugation sites were identified by mass spectrometry in the 21KRΔAP2 mutant, suggesting that cryptic ubiquitylation may mediate endocytosis of this mutant. Total internal reflection fluorescence microscopy imaging of HuTu-80 cells transfected with labeled ubiquitin adaptor epsin1 demonstrated that the ubiquitylation-deficient EGFR mutant was endocytosed through a limited population of epsin-enriched clathrin-coated pits (CCPs), although with a prolonged CCP lifetime. Native EGFR was recruited with the same efficiency into CCPs containing either AP-2 or epsin1 that were tagged with fluorescent proteins by genome editing of MDA-MD-231 cells. We propose that two redundant mechanisms, ubiquitylation and interaction with AP-2, contribute to EGFR endocytosis via CCPs in a stochastic fashion.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1137-1154
Number of pages18
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2015


  • Clathrin
  • EGF
  • Endocytosis
  • Ubiquitin


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