• connexin43;
  • EGFR;
  • endosomal sorting;
  • ESCRT;
  • Tsg101

Ligand-mediated lysosomal degradation of growth factor receptors, mediated by the endosomal sorting complex required for transport (ESCRT) machinery, is a mechanism that attenuates the cellular response to growth factors. In this article, we present a novel regulatory mechanism that involves ligand-mediated degradation of a key component of the sorting machinery itself. We have investigated the endosomal localization of subunits of the four ESCRTs—Hrs (ESCRT-0), Tsg101 (ESCRT-I), EAP30/Vps22 (ESCRT-II) and charged multivesicular body protein 3/Vps24 (ESCRT-III). All the components were detected on the limiting membrane of multivesicular endosomes (MVEs). Surprisingly, however, Tsg101 and other ESCRT-I subunits were also detected within intraluminal vesicles (ILVs) of MVEs. Tsg101 was sequestered along with cargo during endosomal sorting into ILVs and further degraded in lysosomes. Importantly, ESCRT-mediated downregulation of two distinct cargoes, epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) and connexin43, mutually made cells refractory to degradation of the other cargo. Our observations indicate that the degradation of a key ESCRT component along with cargo represents a novel feedback control of endosomal sorting by preventing collateral degradation of cell surface receptors following stimulation of one specific pathway.