The molecular mechanism underlying the transport of G protein-coupled receptors from the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) to the cell surface is poorly understood. This issue was addressed by determining the role of Rab1, a Ras-related small GTPase that coordinates vesicular protein transport in the early secretory pathway, in the subcellular distribution and function of the angiotensin II type 1A receptor (ATIR), β2-adrenergic receptor (AR), and α2B-AR in HEK293T cells. Inhibition of endogenous Rab1 function by transient expression of dominant-negative Rab1 mutants or Rab1 small interfering RNA (siRNA) induced a marked perinuclear accumulation and a significant reduction in cell-surface expression of AT1R and β 2-AR. The accumulated receptors were colocalized with calregulin (an ER marker) and GM130 (a Golgi marker), consistent with Rab1 function in regulating protein transport from the ER to the Golgi. In contrast, dominant-negative Rab1 mutants and siRNA had no effect on the subcellular distribution of α2B-AR. Similarly, expression of dominant-negative Rab1 mutants and siRNA depletion of Rab1 significantly attenuated AT1R-mediated inositol phosphate accumulation and ERK1/2 activation and β2-AR-mediated ERK1/2 activation, but not α 2B-AR-stimulated ERK1/2 activation. These data indicate that Rab1 GTPase selectively regulates intracellular trafficking and signaling of G protein-coupled receptors and suggest a novel, as yet undefined pathway for movement of G protein-coupled receptors from the ER to the cell surface.
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