Internalization of the human CRF receptor 1 is independent of classical phosphorylation sites and of β-arrestin 1 recruitment


S. M. Nielsen, Department of Molecular Pharmacology, H. Lundbeck A/S, 9 Ottiliavej, DK-2500 Valby, Denmark.
Fax: +45 3643 8253, Tel.: +45 3643 2096,


The corticotropin releasing factor receptor 1 (CRFR1) belongs to the superfamily of G-protein coupled receptors. Though CRF is involved in the aetiology of several stress-related disorders, including depression and anxiety, details of CRFR1 regulation such as internalization remain uncharacterized. In the present study, agonist-induced internalization of CRFR1 in HEK293 cells was visualized by confocal microcopy and quantified using the radioligand 125I-labelled sauvagine. Recruitment of β-arrestin 1 in response to receptor activation was demonstrated by confocal microscopy. The extent of 125I-labelled sauvagine stimulated internalization was significantly impaired by sucrose, indicating the involvement of clathrin-coated pits. No effect on the extent of internalization was observed in the presence of the second messenger dependent kinase inhibitors H-89 and staurosporine, indicating that cAMP-dependent protein kinase and protein kinase C are not prerequisites for CRFR1 internalization. Surprisingly, deletion of all putative phosphorylation sites in the C-terminal tail, as well as a cluster of putative phosporylation sites in the third intracellular loop, did not affect receptor internalization. However, these mutations almost abolished the recruitment of β-arrestin 1 following receptor activation. In conclusion, we demonstrate that CRFR1 internalization is independent of phosphorylation sites in the C-terminal tail and third intracellular loop, and the degree of β-arrestin 1 recruitment.