Much is known about G protein coupled receptor trafficking and internalization following agonist stimulation. However, much less is known about outward trafficking of receptors from synthesis in the endoplasmic reticulum to the plasma membrane, or the role that trafficking might play in the assembly of receptor signaling complexes, important for targeting, specificity, and rapidity of subsequent signaling events. Up to now, very little is understood about receptor hetero-oligomers other than the fact that their assembly is done rapidly after biosynthesis. In our study we use bimolecular fluorescence complementation to selectively follow receptor dimers when expressed in Jurkat cells in order to clarify the trafficking itinerary those receptors follow to reach the plasma membrane and the resulting effect on signal transduction. CXCR4 and CCR5, previously shown to form both homo and hetero-oligomers, were used as our model to understand the specificities of trafficking along the anterograde pathway. The CXCR4 homodimer relies on Rabs2, 6 and 8 for anterograde transport regardless of the presence of endogenous CD4. The CCR5 homodimer relies on Rabs1 and 11 when CD4 is absent, but Rabs1 and 8 when CD4 was present. Interestingly, similar to the CCR5 homodimer, the CXCR4-CCR5 heterodimer relied on Rabs1 and 11 but also required Rab2 when CD4 was absent, and only Rab 1 when CD4 was present. Our results demonstrate that, although the receptors composing the heterodimeric complex are the same as in the homodimeric ones, the heterodimer traffics and signals differently than each homodimer. Our study demonstrates the importance of considering the receptor heterodimers as distinct signaling entities that should be carefully and individually characterized.
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