Background: The insulin-like growth factor 1 receptor (IGF-1R) plays numerous crucial roles in cancer biology. The majority of knowledge on IGF-1R signaling is concerned with its role in the activation of the canonical phosphatidyl inositol-3 kinase (PI3K)/Akt and MAPK/ERK pathways. However, the role of IGF-1R ubiquitination in modulating IGF-1R function is an area of current research. In light of this we sought to determine the relationship between IGF-1R phosphorylation, ubiquitination, and modulation of growth signals.
Methodology: Wild type and mutant constructs of IGF-1R were transfected into IGF-1R null fibroblasts. IGF-1R autophosphorylation and ubiquitination were determined by immunoprecipitation and western blotting. IGF-1R degradation and stability was determined by cyclohexamide-chase assay in combination with lysosome and proteasome inhibitors.
Principal findings: IGF-1R autophosphorylation was found to be an absolute requirement for receptor ubiquitination. Deletion of C-terminal domain had minimal effect on IGF-1 induced receptor autophosphorylation, however, ubiquitination and ERK activation were completely abolished. Cells expressing kinase impaired IGF-1R, exhibited both receptor ubiquitination and ERK phosphorylation, however failed to activate Akt. While IGF-1R mutants with impaired PI3K/Akt signaling were degraded mainly by the proteasomes, the C-terminal truncated one was exclusively degraded through the lysosomal pathway.
Conclusions: Our data suggest important roles of ubiquitination in mediating IGF-1R signaling and degradation. Ubiquitination of IGF-1R requires receptor tyrosine kinase activity, but is not involved in Akt activation. In addition we show that the C-terminal domain of IGF-1R is a necessary requisite for ubiquitination and ERK phosphorylation as well as for proteasomal degradation of the receptor.