Document Type



Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor's Name

Manuel Alejandro Barbieri

First Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Chair

Second Advisor's Name

Lidia Kos

Third Advisor's Name

John Makemson

Fourth Advisor's Name

Fenfei Leng

Fifth Advisor's Name

Ophelia Weeks


Endocytosis, Rin1, Rab5, Ras, Signaling, EGF Receptor, Insulin Receptor, TrkA, Adipogenesis

Date of Defense



Receptor-tyrosine kinases (RTKs) are membrane bound receptors characterized by their intrinsic kinase activity. RTK activities play an essential role in several human diseases, including cancer, diabetes and neurodegenerative diseases. RTK activities have been regulated by the expression or silencing of several genes as well as by the utilization of small molecules.

Ras Interference 1 (Rin1) is a multifunctional protein that becomes associated with activated RTKs upon ligand stimulation. Rin1 plays a key role in receptor internalization and in signal transduction via activation of Rab5 and association with active form of Ras. This study has two main objectives: (1) It determines the role of Rin1 in the regulation of several RTKs focusing on insulin receptor. This was accomplished by studying the Rin1-insulin receptor interaction using a variety of biochemical and morphological assays. This study shows a novel interaction between the insulin receptor and Rin1 through the Vps9 domain. Two more RTKs (epidermal growth factor receptor and nerve growth factor receptor) also interacted with the SH2 domain of Rin1. The effect of the Rin1-RTK interaction on the activation of both Rab5 and Ras was also studied during receptor internalization and intracellular signaling. Finally, the role of Rin1 was examined in two differentiation processes (adipogenesis and neurogenesis). Rin1 showed a strong inhibitory effect on 3T3-L1 preadipocyte differentiation but it seems to show a modest effect in PC12 neurite outgrowth. These data indicate a selective function and specific interaction of Rin1 toward RTKs. (2) It examines the role of the small molecule Dehydroleucodine (DhL) on several key signaling molecules during adipogenesis. This was accomplished by studying the differentiation of 3T3-L1 preadipocytes exposed to different concentrations of DhL in different days of the adipocyte formation process. The results indicate that DhL selectively blocked adipocyte formation, as well as the expression of PPARγ, and C/EBPα. However, DhL treatment did not affect Rin1 or Rab5 expression and their activities.

Taken together, the data indicate a potential molecular mechanism by which proteins or small molecules regulate selective and specific RTK intracellular membrane trafficking and signaling during cell growth and differentiation in normal and pathological conditions.





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