Rab5 isoforms differentially regulate the trafficking and degradation of epidermal growth factor receptors

J Biol Chem. 2009 Oct 30;284(44):30328-38. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M109.034546. Epub 2009 Sep 1.


Ligand-mediated endocytosis is an intricate regulatory mechanism for epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) signal transduction. Coordinated trafficking of EGFR ensures its temporal and spatial communication with downstream signaling effectors. We focused our work on Rab5, a monomeric GTPase shown to participate in early stages of the endocytic pathway. Rab5 has three isoforms (A, B, and C) sharing more than 90% of sequence identity. We individually ablated endogenous isoforms in HeLa cells with short interfering RNAs and examined the loss-of-function phenotypes. We found that suppression of Rab5A or 5B hampered the degradation of EGFR, whereas Rab5C depletion had very little effect. The differential delay of EGFR degradation also corresponds with retarded progression of EGFR from early to late endosomes. We investigated the activators/effectors of Rab5A that can potentially separate its potency in EGFR degradation from other isoforms and found that Rin1, a Rab5 exchange factor, preferably associated with Rab5A. Moreover, Rab5A activation is sensitive to EGF stimulation, and suppression of Rin1 diminished this sensitivity. Based on our results together with previous work showing that Rin1 interacts with signal transducing adapter molecule to facilitate the degradation of EGFR (Kong, C., Su, X., Chen, P. I., and Stahl, P. D. (2007) J. Biol. Chem. 282, 15294-15301), we hypothesize that the selective association of Rab5A and Rin1 contributes to the dominance of Rab5A in EGFR trafficking, whereas the other isoforms may have major functions unrelated to the EGFR degradation pathway.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Endocytosis
  • Endosomes / metabolism
  • ErbB Receptors / metabolism*
  • HeLa Cells
  • Humans
  • Intracellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins / metabolism
  • Protein Denaturation
  • Protein Isoforms / genetics
  • Protein Transport
  • RNA, Small Interfering / pharmacology
  • rab5 GTP-Binding Proteins / genetics
  • rab5 GTP-Binding Proteins / physiology*


  • Intracellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins
  • Protein Isoforms
  • RIN1 protein, human
  • RNA, Small Interfering
  • ErbB Receptors
  • RAB5C protein, human
  • rab5 GTP-Binding Proteins