Beta(2)-adrenergic receptor desensitization, internalization and phosphorylation in response to full and partial agonists

Bridgette Goodwin January, The University of Texas Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at Houston


The objective of this study is to test the hypothesis that partial agonists produce less desensitization because they generate less of the active conformation of the $\beta\sb2$-adrenergic receptor ($\beta$AR) (R*) and in turn cause less $\beta$AR phosphorylation by beta adrenergic receptor kinase ($\beta$ARK) and less $\beta$AR internalization. In the present work, rates of desensitization, internalization, and phosphorylation caused by a series of $\beta$AR agonists were correlated with a quantitative measure, defined as coupling efficiency, of agonist-dependent $\beta$AR activation of adenylyl cyclase. These studies were preformed in HEK-293 cells overexpressing the $\beta$AR with hemagglutinin (HA) and 6-histidine (6HIS) epitopes introduced into the N- and C-termini respectively. Agonists chosen provided a 95-fold range of coupling efficiencies, and, relative to epinephrine, the best agonist, (100%) were fenoterol (42%), albuterol (4.9%), dobutamine (2.5%) and ephedrine (1.1%). At concentrations of these agonists yielding $>$90% receptor occupancy, the rate and extent of the rapid phase (0-30 min) of agonist induced desensitization of adenylyl cyclase followed the same order as coupling efficiency, that is, epinephrine $\ge$ fitnoterol $>$ albuterol $>$ dobutamine $>$ ephedrine. The rate of internalization, measured by a loss of surface receptors during desensitization, with respect to these agonists also followed the same order as the desensitization and exhibited a slight lag. Like desensitization and internalization, $\beta$AR phosphorylation exhibited a dependency on agonist strength. The two strongest agonists epinephrine and fenoterol provoked 11 to 13 fold increases in the level of $\beta$AR phosphorylation after just 1 min, whereas the weakest agonists dobutamine and ephedrine caused only 3 to 4 fold increases in phosphorylation. With longer treatment times, the level of $\beta$AR phosphorylation declined with the strong agonists, but progressively increased with the weaker partial agonists. The major conclusion drawn from this study is that the occupancy-dependent rate of receptor phosphorylation increases with agonist coupling efficiencies and that this is sufficient to explain the desensitization, internalization, and phosphorylation data obtained. The mechanism of activation and desensitization by the partial $\beta$AR agonist salmeterol was also examined in this study. This drug is extremely hydrophobic and its study presents possibly unique problems. To determine whether salmeterol induces desensitization of the $\beta$AR its action has been studied using our system. Employing the use of reversible antagonists it was found that salmeterol, which has an estimated coupling efficiency near that of albuterol caused $\beta$AR desensitization. This desensitization was much reduced relative to epinephrine. Consistent with its coupling efficiency, it was found to be similar to albuterol in its ability to induce internalization and phosphorylation of the $\beta$AR. (Abstract shortened by UMI.)

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Recommended Citation

January, Bridgette Goodwin, "Beta(2)-adrenergic receptor desensitization, internalization and phosphorylation in response to full and partial agonists" (1997). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI9732770.