Unraveling G protein-coupled receptor endocytosis pathways using real-time monitoring of agonist-promoted interaction between β-arrestins and AP-2

Fadi F. Hamdan, Moulay Driss Rochdi, Billy Breton, Delphine Fessart, Douce E. Michaud, Pascale G. Charest, Stéphane A. Laporte, Michel Bouvier

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

62 Scopus citations


The most widely studied pathway underlying agonist-promoted internalization of G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) involves β-arrestin and clathrin-coated pits. However, both β-arrestin- and clathrin-independent processes have also been reported. Classically, the endocytic routes are characterized using pharmacological inhibitors and various dominant negative mutants, resulting sometimes in conflicting results and interpretational difficulties. Here, taking advantage of the fact that β-arrestin binding to the β2 subunit of the clathrin adaptor AP-2 (β2-adaptin) is needed for the β-arrestin-mediated targeting of GPCRs to clathrin-coated pits, we developed a bioluminescence resonance energy transfer-based approach directly assessing the molecular steps involved in the endocytosis of GPCRs in living cells. For 10 of the 12 receptors tested, including some that were previously suggested to internalize via clathrin-independent pathways, agonist stimulation promoted β-arrestin 1 and 2 interaction with β2-adaptin, indicating a β-arrestin-and clathrin-dependent endocytic process. Detailed analyses of β-arrestin interactions with both the receptor and β2-adaptin also allowed us to demonstrate that recruitment of β-arrestins to the receptor and the ensuing conformational changes are the leading events preceding AP-2 engagement and subsequent clathrin-mediated endocytosis. Among the receptors tested, only the endothelin A and B receptors failed to promote interaction between β-arrestins and β2-adaptin. However, both receptors recruited β-arrestins upon agonist stimulation, suggesting a β-arrestin- dependent but clathrin-independent route of internalization for these two receptors. In addition to providing a new tool to dissect the molecular events involved in GPCR endocytosis, the bioluminescence resonance energy transfer-based β-arrestin/β2-adaptin interaction assay represents a novel biosensor to assess receptor activation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)29089-29100
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number40
StatePublished - Oct 5 2007

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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