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Open Access Research article

Immature and mature species of the human Prostacyclin Receptor are ubiquitinated and targeted to the 26S proteasomal or lysosomal degradation pathways, respectively

Peter D Donnellan and B Therese Kinsella*

Author Affiliations

School of Biomolecular and Biomedical Sciences, Conway Institute of Biomolecular and Biomedical Research, University College Dublin, Belfield, Dublin 4, Ireland

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Journal of Molecular Signaling 2009, 4:7  doi:10.1186/1750-2187-4-7

Published: 25 September 2009



The human prostacyclin receptor (hIP) undergoes agonist-induced phosphorylation, desensitisation and internalisation and may be recycled to the plasma membrane or targeted for degradation by, as yet, unknown mechanism(s).


Herein it was sought to investigate the turnover of the hIP under basal conditions and in response to cicaprost stimulation. It was established that the hIP is subject to low-level basal degradation but, following agonist stimulation, degradation is substantially enhanced. Inhibition of the lysosomal pathway prevented basal and agonist-induced degradation of the mature species of the hIP (46-66 kDa). Conversely, inhibition of the proteasomal pathway had no effect on levels of the mature hIP but led to time-dependent accumulation of four newly synthesised immature species (38-44 kDa). It was established that both the mature and immature species of the hIP may be polyubiquitinated and this modification may be required for lysosomal sorting of the mature, internalised receptors and for degradation of the immature receptors by the 26S proteasomes through the ER-associated degradation (ERAD) process, respectively. Moreover, these data substantially advance knowledge of the factors regulating processing and maturation of the hIP, a complex receptor subject to multiple post-translational modifications including N-glycosylation, phosphorylation, isoprenylation, palmitoylation, in addition to polyubiquitination, as determined herein.


These findings indicate that the hIP is post-translationally modified by ubiquitination, which targets the immature species to the 26S proteasomal degradation pathway and the mature species to the lysosomal degradation pathway.