Endothelin receptor heteromerization inhibits β-arrestin function in HEK293 cells

Adel Zrein, Amina M Bagher, Alexander P Young, Eileen M Denovan-Wright, Melanie E M Kelly
Canadian Journal of Physiology and Pharmacology 2020 August 3, : 531-540
The endothelin receptor A (ETA) and endothelin receptor B (ETB) are G protein-coupled receptors that are co-expressed in vascular smooth muscle cells. Endothelin-1 (ET-1) activates endothelin receptors to cause microvascular vasoconstriction. Previous studies have shown that heteromerization between ETA and ETB prolongs Ca2+ transients, leading to prolongation of Gαq -dependent signaling and sustained vasoconstriction. We hypothesized that these effects are in part mediated by the resistance of ETA/ETB heteromers to β-arrestin recruitment and subsequent desensitization. Using bioluminescence resonance energy transfer 2 (BRET2 ), we found that ETB has a relatively equal affinity to form either homomers or heteromers with ETA when co-expressed in the human embryonic kidney 293 (HEK293) cells. When co-expressed, activation of ETA and ETB by ET-1 caused a heteromer-specific reduction and delay in β-arrestin-2 recruitment with a corresponding reduction and delay in ET-1-induced ETA/ETB co-internalization. Furthermore, the co-expression of ETA and ETB inhibited ET-1-induced β-arrestin-1-dependent extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) phosphorylation while prolonging ET-1-induced Gαq -dependent ERK phosphorylation. ETA/ETB heteromerization mediates the long-lasting vasoconstrictor response to ET-1 by the prolongation of Gαq -dependent signaling and inhibition of β-arrestin function.

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