Date of Graduation


Document Type

Thesis (MS)

Program Affiliation

Biomedical Sciences

Degree Name

Masters of Science (MS)

Advisor/Committee Chair

Andrew J. Bean

Committee Member

Pramod Dash

Committee Member

Chinnaswamy Jagannath

Committee Member

M. Neal Waxham

Committee Member

Jack C. Waymire


The length of time that integral membrane proteins reside on the plasma membrane is regulated by endocytosis, a process that can inactivate these proteins by removing them from the membrane and may ultimately result in their degradation. Proteins are internalized and pass through multiple distinct intracellular compartments where targeting decisions determine their fate. Membrane proteins initially enter early endosomes, and subsequently late endosomes/multivesicular bodies (MVBs), before being degraded in the lysosome. The MVB is a subset of late endosomes characterized by the appearance of small vesicles in its luminal compartment. These vesicles contain cargo proteins sorted from the limiting membrane of the MVB. Proteins not sorted into luminal vesicles remain on the MVB membrane, from where they may be recycled back to the plasma membrane. In the case of receptor tyrosine kinases (RTKs), such as epidermal growth factor (EGF) receptor, this important sorting step determines whether a protein returns to the surface to participate in signaling, or whether its signaling properties are inactivated through its degradation in the lysosome. Hrs is a protein that resides on endosomes and is known to recruit sorting complexes that are vital to this sorting step. These sorting complexes are believed to recognize ubiquitin as sorting signals. However, the link between MVB sorting machinery and the ubiquitination machinery is not known. Recently, Hrs was shown to recruit and bind an E3 ubiquitin ligase, UBE4B, to endosomes. In an assay that is able to measure cargo movement, the disruption of the Hrs-UBE4B interaction showed impaired sorting of EGF receptor into MVBs. My hypothesis is that UBE4B may be the connection between MVB sorting and ubiquitination. This study addresses the role of UBE4B in the trafficking and ubiquitination of EGF receptor. I created stable cell lines that either overexpresses UBE4B or expresses a UBE4B with no ligase activity. Levels of EGF receptor were analyzed after certain periods of ligand-induced receptor internalization. I observed that higher expression levels of UBE4B correspond to increased degradation of EGF receptor. In an in vitro ubiquitination assay, I also determined that UBE4B mediates the ubiquitination of EGF receptor. These data suggest that UBE4B is required for EGFR degradation specifically because it ubiquitinates the receptor allowing it to be sorted into the internal vesicles of MVBs and subsequently degraded in lysosomes.


epidermal growth factor receptor, EGFR, UBE4B, ubiquitin ligase, ubiquitination, endocytosis, protein trafficking, multivesicular body, MVB, protein sorting



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