Alpha-2C-adrenergic receptors exhibit enhanced surface expression and signaling upon association with beta-2-adrenergic receptors

Prinster SC, Holmqvist TG, Hall RA
Source: J Pharmacol Exp Ther
Publication Date: (2006)
Issue: 318(3): 974-81
Research Area:
Cancer Research/Cell Biology
Cells used in publication:
Species: human
Tissue Origin: kidney
Nucleofectorâ„¢ I/II/2b
The alpha(2C)-adrenergic receptor (alpha(2C)AR) is known to be poorly trafficked to the cell surface when expressed in a variety of cell types. We tested the hypothesis that the surface expression and signaling of alpha(2C)AR might be enhanced by heterodimerization with other G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs). Cotransfection of alpha(2C)AR with more than 25 related GPCRs revealed that only coexpression with the beta(2)-adrenergic receptor (beta(2)AR) increased the surface localization of alpha(2C)AR in human embryonic kidney-293 cells. Coimmunoprecipitation of alpha(2C)AR with beta(2)AR confirmed a physical interaction between the two receptors. Confocal microscopy studies demonstrated that alpha(2C)AR expressed alone was mainly intracellular, whereas alpha(2C)AR coexpressed with beta(2)AR was predominantly localized to the plasma membrane. Ligand binding studies revealed a significant increase in alpha(2C)AR binding sites upon coexpression with beta(2)AR, with no apparent change in affinity for alpha(2)AR ligands. Functional assays with the alpha(2)AR-specific agonist brimonidine (UK 14,304) revealed that coexpression of beta(2)AR with alpha(2C)AR enhanced alpha(2C)AR-mediated activation of extracellular signal-regulated kinase 1/2. Furthermore, analyses of agonist-promoted receptor endocytosis demonstrated enhanced alpha(2C)AR internalization in response to alpha(2)AR agonists when alpha(2C)AR and beta(2)AR were coexpressed. In addition, substantial cointernalization of alpha(2C)AR in response to betaAR agonists was observed when alpha(2C)AR was coexpressed with beta(2)AR. These data reveal that alpha(2C)AR can interact with beta(2)AR in cells in a manner that regulates alpha(2C)AR surface expression, internalization, and functionality.