Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America

The ocular albinism type 1 (OA1) GPCR is ubiquitinated and its traffic requires endosomal sorting complex responsible for transport (ESCRT) function.

PMID 21730137


The function of signaling receptors is tightly controlled by their intracellular trafficking. One major regulatory mechanism within the endo-lysosomal system required for receptor localization and down-regulation is protein modification by ubiquitination and downstream interactions with the endosomal sorting complex responsible for transport (ESCRT) machinery. Whether and how these mechanisms operate to regulate endosomal sorting of mammalian G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) remains unclear. Here, we explore the involvement of ubiquitin and ESCRTs in the trafficking of OA1, a pigment cell-specific GPCR, target of mutations in Ocular Albinism type 1, which localizes intracellularly to melanosomes to regulate their biogenesis. Using biochemical and morphological methods in combination with overexpression and inactivation approaches we show that OA1 is ubiquitinated and that its intracellular sorting and down-regulation requires functional ESCRT components. Depletion or overexpression of subunits of ESCRT-0, -I, and -III markedly inhibits OA1 degradation with concomitant retention within the modified endosomal system. Our data further show that OA1 ubiquitination is uniquely required for targeting to the intralumenal vesicles of multivesicular endosomes, thereby regulating the balance between down-regulation and delivery to melanosomes. This study highlights the role of ubiquitination and the ESCRT machinery in the intracellular trafficking of mammalian GPCRs and has implications for the physiopathology of ocular albinism type 1.