Cationic amino acid transporter 1 (CAT-1) is responsible for the bulk of the uptake of cationic amino acids in most mammalian cells. Activation of protein kinase C (PKC) leads to down-regulation of the cell surface CAT-1. To examine the mechanisms of PKC-induced down-regulation of CAT-1, a functional mutant of CAT-1 (CAT-1-HA-GFP) was generated in which a hemagglutinin antigen (HA) epitope tag was introduced into the second extracellular loop and GFP was attached to the carboxyl terminus. CAT-1-HA-GFP was stably expressed in porcine aorthic endothelial and human epithelial kidney (HEK) 293 cells. Using the HA antibody internalization assay we have demonstrated that PKC-dependent endocytosis was strongly inhibited by siRNA depletion of clathrin heavy chain, indicating that CAT-1-HA-GFP internalization requires clathrin-coated pits. Internalized CAT-1-HA-GFP was accumulated in early, recycling, and late endosomes. PKC activation also resulted in ubiquitination of CAT-1. CAT-1 ubiquitination and endocytosis in phorbol ester-stimulated porcine aorthic endothelial and HEK293 cells were inhibited by siRNA knockdown of NEDD4-2 and NEDD4-1 E3 ubiquitin ligases, respectively. In contrast, ubiquitination and endocytosis of the dopamine transporter was dependent on NEDD4-2 in all cell types tested. Altogether, our data suggest that ubiquitination mediated by NEDD4-2 or NEDD4-1 leading to clathrin-mediated endocytosis is the common mode of regulation of various transporter proteins by PKC
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