Non-Technical Summary The movement of receptors to and from the surface of nerve cells determines whether nerves can detect and respond to stimulants in the extracellular fluid. It is well established that stimulated receptors move from the surface of nerves to intracellular compartments, but the processes that control movement of internalized receptors back to the surface are poorly understood. We show that an intracellular enzyme, endothelin-converting enzyme-1, controls the translocation of receptors back to the surface of neurones of the intestinal tract that control the normal process of digestion. This process is likely to regulate digestion, and abnormalities in the mechanism could cause digestive diseases.
Abstract Neuropeptide signalling at the plasma membrane is terminated by neuropeptide degradation by cell-surface peptidases, and by β-arrestin-dependent receptor desensitization and endocytosis. However, receptors continue to signal from endosomes by β-arrestin-dependent processes, and endosomal sorting mediates recycling and resensitization of plasma membrane signalling. The mechanisms that control signalling and trafficking of receptors in endosomes are poorly defined. We report a major role for endothelin-converting enzyme-1 (ECE-1) in controlling substance P (SP) and the neurokinin 1 receptor (NK1R) in endosomes of myenteric neurones. ECE-1 mRNA and protein were expressed by myenteric neurones of rat and mouse intestine. SP (10 nm, 10 min) induced interaction of NK1R and β-arrestin at the plasma membrane, and the SP–NK1R–β-arrestin signalosome complex trafficked by a dynamin-mediated mechanism to ECE-1-containing early endosomes, where ECE-1 can degrade SP. After 120 min, NK1R recycled from endosomes to the plasma membrane. ECE-1 inhibitors (SM-19712, PD-069185) and the vacuolar H+ATPase inhibitor bafilomycin A1, which prevent endosomal SP degradation, suppressed NK1R recycling by >50%. Preincubation of neurones with SP (10 nm, 5 min) desensitized Ca2+ transients to a second SP challenge after 10 min, and SP signals resensitized after 60 min. SM-19712 inhibited NK1R resensitization by >90%. ECE-1 inhibitors also caused sustained SP-induced activation of extracellular signal-regulated kinases, consistent with stabilization of the SP–NK1R–β-arrestin signalosome. By degrading SP and destabilizing endosomal signalosomes, ECE-1 has a dual role in controlling endocytic signalling and trafficking of the NK1R: promoting resensitization of G protein-mediated plasma membrane signalling, and terminating β-arrestin-mediated endosomal signalling.