Phosphorylation/dephosphorylation of the beta-adrenergic receptor regulates its functional coupling to adenylate cyclase and subcellular distribution.
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Prolonged exposure of cells or tissues to drugs or hormones such as catecholamines leads to a state of refractoriness to further stimulation by that agent, known as homologous desensitization. In the case of the beta-adrenergic receptor coupled to adenylate cyclase, this process has been shown to be intimately associated with the sequestration of the receptors from the cell surface through a cAMP-independent process. Recently, we have shown that homologous desensitization in the frog erythrocyte model system is also associated with increased phosphorylation of the beta-adrenergic receptor. We now provide evidence that the phosphorylation state of the beta-adrenergic receptor regulates its functional coupling to adenylate cyclase, subcellular translocation, and recycling to the cell surface during the process of agonist-induced homologous desensitization. Moreover, we show that the receptor phosphorylation is reversed by a phosphatase specifically associated with the sequestered subcellular compartment. At 23 degrees C, the time courses of beta-adrenergic receptor phosphorylation, sequestration, and adenylate cyclase desensitization are identical, occurring without a lag, exhibiting a t1/2 of 30 min, and reaching a maximum at approximately 3 hr. Upon cell lysis, the sequestered beta-adrenergic receptors can be partially recovered in a light membrane vesicle fraction that is separable from the plasma membranes by differential centrifugation. The increased beta-adrenergic receptor phosphorylation is apparently reversed in the sequestered vesicle fraction as the sequestered receptors exhibit a phosphate/receptor stoichiometry that is similar to that observed under basal conditions. High levels of a beta-adrenergic receptor phosphatase activity appear to be associated with the sequestered vesicle membranes. The functional activity of the phosphorylated beta-adrenergic receptor was examined by reconstituting purified receptor with its biochemical effector the guanine nucleotide regulatory protein (Ns) in phospholipid vesicles and assessing the receptor-stimulated GTPase activity of Ns. Compared to controls, phosphorylated beta-adrenergic receptors, purified from desensitized cells, were less efficacious in activating the Ns GTPase activity. These results suggest that phosphorylation of the beta-adrenergic receptor leads to its functional uncoupling and physical translocation away from the cell surface into a sequestered membrane domain. In the sequestered compartment, the phosphorylation is reversed thus enabling the receptor to recycle back to the cell surface and recouple with adenylate cyclase.
Receptors, Adrenergic, beta
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James B. Duke Distinguished Professor of Medicine
Dr. Lefkowitz’s memoir, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Stockholm, recounts his early career as a cardiologist and his transition to biochemistry, which led to his Nobel Prize win. Robert J. Lefkowitz, M.D. is James B. Duke Professor of Medicine and Professor of Biochemistry and Chemistry at the Duke University Medical Center. He has been an Investigator of the