Distinct endocytic responses of heteromeric and homomeric transforming growth factor β receptors

Robert A. Anders, Sandra L. Arline, Jules J.E. Doré, Edward B. Leof

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

55 Scopus citations


Transforming growth factor β (TGFβ) family ligands initiate a cascade of events capable of modulating cellular growth and differentiation. The receptors responsible for transducing these cellular signals are referred to as the type I and type II TGFβ receptors. Ligand binding to the type II receptor results in the transphosphorylation and activation of the type I receptor. This heteromeric complex then propagates the signal(s) to down- stream effectors. There is presently little data concerning the fate of TGFβ receptors after ligand binding, with conflicting reports indicating no change or decreasing cell surface receptor numbers. To address the fate of ligand- activated receptors, we have used our previously characterized chimeric receptors consisting of the ligand binding domain from the granulocyte/macrophage colony-stimulating factor α or β receptor fused to the transmembrane and cytoplasmic domain of the type I or type II TGFβ receptor. This system not only provides the necessary sensitivity and specificity to address these types of questions but also permits the differentiation of endocytic responses to either homomeric or heteromeric intracellular TGFβ receptor oligomerization. Data are presented that show, within minutes of ligand binding, chimeric TGFβ receptors are internalized. However, although all the chimeric receptor combinations show similar internalization rates, receptor down-regulation occurs only after activation of heteromeric TGFβ receptors. These results indicate that effective receptor down-regulation requires cross-talk between the type I and type II TGFβ receptors and that TGFβ receptor heteromers and homomers show distinct trafficking behavior.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2133-2143
Number of pages11
JournalMolecular biology of the cell
Issue number11
StatePublished - 1997

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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