Document Type


Publication Date



Eberly College of Arts and Sciences





Epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) internalization following ligand binding controls EGFR downstream pathway signaling activity. Internalized EGFR is poly-ubiquitinated by Cbl to promote lysosome-mediated degradation and signal downregulation. ACK1 is a non-receptor tyrosine kinase that interacts with ubiquitinated EGFR to facilitate EGFR degradation. Dynamic reorganization of the cortical actin cytoskeleton controlled by the actin related protein (Arp)2/3 complex is important in regulating EGFR endocytosis and vesicle trafficking. How ACK1-mediated EGFR internalization cooperates with Arp2/3-based actin dynamics during EGFR downregulation is unclear.

Methodology/Principal Findings

Here we show that ACK1 directly binds and phosphorylates the Arp2/3 regulatory protein cortactin, potentially providing a direct link to Arp2/3-based actin dynamics during EGFR degradation. Co-immunoprecipitation analysis indicates that the cortactin SH3 domain is responsible for binding to ACK1. In vitro kinase assays demonstrate that ACK1 phosphorylates cortactin on key tyrosine residues that create docking sites for adaptor proteins responsible for enhancing Arp2/3 nucleation. Analysis with phosphorylation-specific antibodies determined that EGFR-induced cortactin tyrosine phosphorylation is diminished coincident with EGFR degradation, whereas ERK1/2 cortactin phosphorylation utilized in promoting activation of the Arp2/3 regulator N-WASp is sustained during EGFR downregulation. Cortactin and ACK1 localize to internalized vesicles containing EGF bound to EGFR visualized by confocal microscopy. RNA interference and rescue studies indicate that ACK1 and the cortactin SH3 domain are essential for ligand-mediated EGFR internalization.


Cortactin is a direct binding partner and novel substrate of ACK1. Tyrosine phosphorylation of cortactin by ACK1 creates an additional means to amplify Arp2/3 dynamics through N-WASp activation, potentially contributing to the overall necessary tensile and/or propulsive forces utilized during EGFR endocytic internalization and trafficking involved in receptor degradation.

Source Citation

Kelley LC, Weed SA (2012) Cortactin Is a Substrate of Activated Cdc42-Associated Kinase 1 (ACK1) during Ligand-induced Epidermal Growth Factor Receptor Downregulation. PLoS ONE 7(8): e44363.


© Kelley, Weed. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.



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