The Journal of biological chemistry

Rab5 isoforms differentially regulate the trafficking and degradation of epidermal growth factor receptors.

PMID 19723633


Ligand-mediated endocytosis is an intricate regulatory mechanism for epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) signal transduction. Coordinated trafficking of EGFR ensures its temporal and spatial communication with downstream signaling effectors. We focused our work on Rab5, a monomeric GTPase shown to participate in early stages of the endocytic pathway. Rab5 has three isoforms (A, B, and C) sharing more than 90% of sequence identity. We individually ablated endogenous isoforms in HeLa cells with short interfering RNAs and examined the loss-of-function phenotypes. We found that suppression of Rab5A or 5B hampered the degradation of EGFR, whereas Rab5C depletion had very little effect. The differential delay of EGFR degradation also corresponds with retarded progression of EGFR from early to late endosomes. We investigated the activators/effectors of Rab5A that can potentially separate its potency in EGFR degradation from other isoforms and found that Rin1, a Rab5 exchange factor, preferably associated with Rab5A. Moreover, Rab5A activation is sensitive to EGF stimulation, and suppression of Rin1 diminished this sensitivity. Based on our results together with previous work showing that Rin1 interacts with signal transducing adapter molecule to facilitate the degradation of EGFR (Kong, C., Su, X., Chen, P. I., and Stahl, P. D. (2007) J. Biol. Chem. 282, 15294-15301), we hypothesize that the selective association of Rab5A and Rin1 contributes to the dominance of Rab5A in EGFR trafficking, whereas the other isoforms may have major functions unrelated to the EGFR degradation pathway.