Prolonged RXFP1 and RXFP2 signaling can be explained by poor internalization and a lack of beta-arrestin recruitment

Am J Physiol Cell Physiol. 2009 May;296(5):C1058-66. doi: 10.1152/ajpcell.00581.2008. Epub 2009 Mar 11.


Relaxin induces sustained physiological responses, which brings into question the deactivation processes typical of most G protein-coupled receptors (GPCR) for its receptor, relaxin family peptide receptor 1 (RXFP1). Here, we examined relaxin-dependent phosphorylation of RXFP1 and the related insulin-like peptide 3 (INSL3) receptor, RXFP2, as well as the capacity of these receptors to recruit beta-arrestins and internalize in response to ligand stimulation. We confirmed in human embryonic kidney (HEK)-293T cells, expressing RXFP1 or RXFP2, that both receptors elicit prolonged cAMP responses up to 6 h after stimulation. Receptors immunoprecipitated from (32)P metabolically labeled cells were used to investigate the agonist-specific phosphorylation. Rapid and robust receptor phosphorylation was not observed for either RXFP1 or RXFP2, although some (32)P-incorporation was observed at 30 min; however, this was not statistically significant. In accord with this result, RXFP1 and RXFP2 demonstrated poor internalization in response to relaxin or INSL3, as compared with the angiotensin II type 1 receptor (AT(1)R), which undergoes rapid and robust phosphorylation and internalization in response to angiotensin II. Additionally, coexpression of GPCR kinases has no effect on the rate of internalization for either RXFP1 or RXFP2. Confocal microscopy was used to follow the trafficking of green fluorescent protein-labeled beta-arrestins after receptor activation. Neither RXFP1 nor RXFP2 activation results in recruitment of beta-arrestins to the cell surface, whereas AT(1)R rapidly recruits both beta-arrestins-1 and -2. The apparent lack of classical regulation for RXFP1 and RXFP2 provides the molecular basis for the prolonged signaling and physiological actions of relaxin and related peptides.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Arrestins / genetics
  • Arrestins / metabolism*
  • COS Cells
  • Chlorocebus aethiops
  • Cyclic AMP / metabolism
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins / genetics
  • Humans
  • Kidney / cytology
  • Phosphorylation / physiology
  • Protein Transport / physiology
  • Rats
  • Receptor, Angiotensin, Type 1 / genetics
  • Receptor, Angiotensin, Type 1 / metabolism
  • Receptors, G-Protein-Coupled / genetics
  • Receptors, G-Protein-Coupled / metabolism*
  • Receptors, Peptide / genetics
  • Receptors, Peptide / metabolism*
  • Relaxin / metabolism
  • Signal Transduction / physiology*
  • Transfection
  • beta-Arrestins


  • Arrestins
  • RXFP1 protein, human
  • RXFP2 protein, human
  • Receptor, Angiotensin, Type 1
  • Receptors, G-Protein-Coupled
  • Receptors, Peptide
  • beta-Arrestins
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins
  • Relaxin
  • Cyclic AMP