2020 Volume 43 Issue 3 Pages 540-545
CD81 is a highly conserved four-transmembrane protein in mammals and widely expressed on many tissues. It belongs to the tetraspanin family and forms complexes with various cell surface membrane proteins. It also functions in cell migration and B-cell activation, which is induced by CD81 complexing with CD19, CD21 and the B-cell receptor. Thus, CD81 is thought to play a key role in regulating cell function and fate. However, little is known about the degradation mechanism of CD81. Here we found that CD81 on the plasma membrane is degraded by the lysosome pathway via endocytosis. The expression levels of CD81 in HEK293T cells treated with a proteasome inhibitor (lactacystin) and lysosome inhibitors (chloroquine and bafilomycin A1) were analyzed by flow cytometry. The expression of CD81 on the cell surface was increased by the lysosome inhibitors, but not lactacystin. A pulldown assay revealed that CD81 was conjugated with a K63- and K29-linked poly-ubiquitin chain before its degradation, and the poly-ubiquitination site was Lys8 at the N-terminal intracellular domain of CD81. Furthermore, mutant CD81, in which Lys8 was substituted with alanine (Ala), extended the CD81 half-life compared with wildtype. CD81 was mainly localized on the plasma membrane in normal cells, but also co-localized with lysosomal LAMP1 and early endosomal EEA1 in chloroquine-treated cells. Furthermore, a clathrin-mediated endocytosis inhibitor, chlorpromazine, stabilized CD81 expression on the cell surface. Hence, we demonstrated that CD81 is internalized by clathrin-mediated endocytosis and subsequently degraded via a lysosome pathway requiring the K63- and K29-linked poly-ubiquitination of CD81.