Mammalian α arrestins link activated seven transmembrane receptors to Nedd4 family e3 ubiquitin ligases and interact with β arrestins

PLoS One. 2012;7(12):e50557. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0050557. Epub 2012 Dec 7.


The complement of fungal cell surface proteins is widely regulated by ubiquitination of membrane proteins, which results in their endocytosis and vacuolar degradation. For diverse fungal transporters, the specificity of ubiquitination is conferred by alpha arrestin adaptors, which recruit the Nedd4 family E3 ubiquitin ligase Rsp5. A recent study showed that one mammalian alpha arrestin also mediates ubiquitination and lysosomal trafficking of an activated plasma membrane receptor. Here we first screen all five widely-expressed human alpha arrestins for subcellular localization in ligand-stimulated and -unstimulated cells overexpressing the seven transmembrane receptor vasopressin 2. We then characterize the effects of alpha arrestins ARRDC3 and ARRDC4 upon activation of the seven transmembrane receptors vasopressin 2 and beta adrenergic 2. Using biochemical and imaging approaches, we show that ligand-activated receptors interact with alpha arrestins, and this results in recruitment of Nedd4 family E3 ubiquitin ligases and receptor ubiquitination - which are known to result in lysosomal trafficking. Our time course studies show these effects occur in the first 1-5 minutes after ligand activation, the same time that beta arrestins are known to have roles in receptor endocytic trafficking and kinase signaling. We tested the possibility that alpha and beta arrestins function coordinately and found co-immunoprecipitation and colocalization evidence to support this. Others recently reported that Arrdc3 knockout mice are lean and resistant to obesity. In the course of breeding our own Arrdc3-deficient mice, we observed two novel phenotypes in homozygotes: skin abnormalities, and embryonic lethality on normal chow diet, but not on high fat diet. Our findings suggest that alpha and beta arrestins function coordinately to maintain the optimal complement and function of cell surface proteins according to cellular physiological context and external signals. We discuss the implications of the alpha arrestin functions in fungi having evolved into coordinated alpha/beta arrestin functions in animals.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Arrestins / genetics
  • Arrestins / metabolism*
  • Cell Line
  • Endosomal Sorting Complexes Required for Transport / genetics
  • Endosomal Sorting Complexes Required for Transport / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Nedd4 Ubiquitin Protein Ligases
  • Protein Binding / genetics
  • Protein Transport / genetics
  • Signal Transduction / genetics
  • Ubiquitin-Protein Ligases / genetics
  • Ubiquitin-Protein Ligases / metabolism*
  • Ubiquitination


  • ARRDC3 protein, mouse
  • Arrestins
  • Endosomal Sorting Complexes Required for Transport
  • Nedd4 Ubiquitin Protein Ligases
  • Nedd4 protein, human
  • Nedd4l protein, mouse
  • Ubiquitin-Protein Ligases

Grant support

This work was supported by faculty start-up and bridge funds from The Research Institute at Nationwide Children's Hospital (to CEA). The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.