Molecular pharmacology 2017 03 22() pii 10.1124/mol.116.106468
Phosphorylation of G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) is a key event for cell signaling and regulation of receptor function. Previously, using tandem mass spectrometry, we identified two phosphorylation sites at the distal C-terminal tail of the chemokine receptor CXCR4, but were unable to determine which specific residues were phosphorylated. Here, we demonstrate that serines 346 and/or 347 (Ser-346/7) of CXCR4 are phosphorylated upon stimulation with the agonist CXCL12 as well as a CXCR4 pepducin, ATI-2341. ATI-2341, a Gi-biased CXCR4 agonist, induced more robust phosphorylation of Ser-346/7 compared to CXCL12. Knockdown of GRK2, GRK3 or GRK6 reduced CXCL12-induced phosphorylation of Ser-346/7 with GRK3 knockdown having the strongest effect, while inhibition of the conventional PKC isoforms reduced phosphorylation of Ser-346/7 induced by either CXCL12 or ATI-2341. The loss of GRK3- or PKC-mediated phosphorylation of Ser-346/7 impaired the recruitment of β-arrestin to CXCR4. We also found that a pseudo-substrate peptide inhibitor for PKCζ effectively inhibited CXCR4 phosphorylation and signaling, most likely by functioning as a non-specific CXCR4 antagonist. Together, these studies demonstrate the role Ser-346/7 plays in arrestin recruitment and initiation of the process of receptor desensitization and provide insight into the dysregulation of CXCR4 observed in patients with various forms of WHIM syndrome.