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Internalization from the cell membrane and endosomal trafficking of receptor tyrosine kinases (RTKs) are important regulators of signaling in normal cells that can frequently be disrupted in cancer. The adrenal tumor pheochromocytoma (PCC) can be caused by activating mutations of the rearranged during transfection (RET) receptor tyrosine kinase, or inactivation of TMEM127, a transmembrane tumor suppressor implicated in trafficking of endosomal cargos. However, the role of aberrant receptor trafficking in PCC is not well understood. Here, we show that loss of TMEM127 causes wildtype RET protein accumulation on the cell surface, where increased receptor density facilitates constitutive ligand-independent activity and downstream signaling, driving cell proliferation. Loss of TMEM127 altered normal cell membrane organization and recruitment and stabilization of membrane protein complexes, impaired assembly, and maturation of clathrin-coated pits, and reduced internalization and degradation of cell surface RET. In addition to RTKs, TMEM127 depletion also promoted surface accumulation of several other transmembrane proteins, suggesting it may cause global defects in surface protein activity and function. Together, our data identify TMEM127 as an important determinant of membrane organization including membrane protein diffusability and protein complex assembly and provide a novel paradigm for oncogenesis in PCC where altered membrane dynamics promotes cell surface accumulation and constitutive activity of growth factor receptors to drive aberrant signaling and promote transformation.


RET, TMEM127, Cancer Biology, Cell Biology, Clathrin-Mediated Endocytosis, Human, Membrane Dynamics, Pheochromocytoma



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