Arrestins are cytosolic proteins that, upon stimulation of seven transmembrane (7TM) receptors, terminate signaling by binding to the receptor, displacing the G protein and targeting the receptor to clathrin-coated pits. Fusion of beta-arrestin1 to the C-terminal end of the neurokinin NK1 receptor resulted in a chimeric protein that was expressed to some extent on the cell surface but also accumulated in transferrin-labeled recycling endosomes independently of agonist stimulation. As expected, the fusion protein was almost totally silenced with respect to agonist-induced signaling through the normal Gq/G11 and Gs pathways. The NK1-beta-arrestin1 fusion construct bound nonpeptide antagonists with increased affinity but surprisingly also bound two types of agonists, substance P and neurokinin A, with high, normal affinity. In the wild-type NK1 receptor, neurokinin A (NKA) competes for binding against substance P and especially against antagonists with up to 1000-fold lower apparent affinity than determined in functional assays and in homologous binding assays. When the NK1 receptor was closely fused to G proteins, this phenomenon was eliminated among agonists, but the agonists still competed with low affinity against antagonists. In contrast, in the NK1-beta-arrestin1 fusion protein, all ligands bound with similar affinity independent of the choice of radioligand and with Hill coefficients near unity. We conclude that the NK1 receptor in complex with arrestin is in a high-affinity, stable, agonist-binding form probably best suited to structural analysis and that the receptor can display binding properties that are nearly theoretically ideal when it is forced to complex with only a single intracellular protein partner.
Keywords: Animals; Arrestins; Binding, Competitive; COS Cells; Cercopithecus aethiops; Conservation of Natural Resources; Endosomes; Heterotrimeric GTP-Binding Proteins; Phenotype; Receptors, Neurokinin-1; Recombinant Fusion Proteins; Signal Transduction; Structure-Activity Relationship; Subcellular Fractions