Visualizing microtubule-dependent vasopressin type 2 receptor trafficking using a new high-affinity fluorescent vasopressin ligand

Endocrinology. 2011 Oct;152(10):3893-904. doi: 10.1210/en.2011-1049. Epub 2011 Aug 9.


The vasopressin receptor type 2 (V2R) is the major target of vasopressin (VP) in renal epithelial cells. Although it is known that VP induces V2R internalization, accumulation in the perinuclear area, and degradation, the V2R intracellular trafficking pathways remain elusive. We visualized this process by developing a new fluorescent VP analog tagged by tetramethylrhodamine (TMR)-[Lys-(PEG)(2)-Suc-TMR(8)]VP or (VP(TMR)). This ligand is fully functional as revealed by its high binding affinity toward V2R [(K(d)) =157 ± 52 nM] and ability to increase intracellular cAMP 32-fold. VP(TMR) induced V2R internalization in LLC-PK1 cells expressing either a FLAG-tagged receptor (FLAG-V2R) or V2R C-terminally tagged with green fluorescent protein (GFP) (V2R-GFP). After internalization, VP(TMR) and V2R-GFP colocalized in the perinuclear area, suggesting that the hormone and receptor traffic along the same pathway. VP(TMR) and V2R colocalized initially with the early endosome markers EEA1 and Rab5, and later with the recycling and late endosome markers Rab11 and Rab25. Epifluorescence microscopy of LLC-PK1 cells expressing GFP-tagged microtubules (MT) showed that VP(TMR)-containing vesicles travel along the MT network, and even remain attached to MT during the metaphase and anaphase of mitosis. Colchicine, a MT-depolymerizing agent, abolished perinuclear accumulation of VP(TMR), and Western blot analysis showed that VP-induced V2R-GFP degradation is markedly retarded, but not abolished, by colchicine (10 μM). We conclude that the new VP(TMR) ligand is suitable for dissecting V2R and VP internalization and trafficking in cells, and that V2R trafficking and down-regulation is an MT-dependent mechanism.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cyclic AMP / metabolism
  • Fluorescent Dyes*
  • LLC-PK1 Cells
  • Ligands
  • Microtubules / physiology*
  • Protein Transport
  • Receptors, Vasopressin / metabolism*
  • Swine
  • Vasopressins / metabolism


  • Fluorescent Dyes
  • Ligands
  • Receptors, Vasopressin
  • Vasopressins
  • Cyclic AMP