Antidepressant-induced differential ubiquitination of β-arrestins 1 and 2 in mononuclear leucocytes of patients with depression. Academic Article uri icon


  • β-Arrestins 1 and 2, cytosolic proteins known to mediate receptor desensitization, endocytosis and G protein-independent signalling, are post-translationally modified by ubiquitination regulating their ability to serve as adaptors and scaffolds. β-Arrestins were suggested to play a role in the pathophysiology of depression and in antidepressant mechanism of action. To determine whether a depressive episode or antidepressant treatment induce significant selective differences in β-arrestin 1 and 2 levels or their ubiquitination patterns in leucocytes of patients with depression, 46 outpatients diagnosed with a depressive episode were examined before and after 4-wk antidepressant treatment compared with age- and gender-matched control subjects. β-Arrestin levels were measured by immunoblotting using anti-arrestin antibodies. Ubiquitination of β-arrestins was measured using anti-ubiquitin antibodies followed by an immunoprecipitation step and immunoblotting using anti-arrestin antibodies. Antidepressants induced selective alterations in leucocyte β-arrestin 1 and 2 levels and ubiquitination. The levels of β-arrestin 1 and 2 and their ubiquitinated forms in leucocytes of yet untreated patients with depression were significantly decreased in a symptom severity correlated manner compared to control subjects. Antidepressants normalized β-arrestin 1 and 2 levels and uncovered novel differences between the two isoforms: (a) while antidepressants normalized ubiquitination of β-arrestin 1, ubiquination of β-arrestin 2 was unaffected; (b) while under antidepressants ubiquitination extent of β-arrestin 1 positively correlated with its level, an inverse picture of negative correlation was found between ubiquitination extent of β-arrestin 2 and its level. We conclude that antidepressants may serve as a tool to detect functional differences between the two β-arrestin isoforms and that through these differential effects antidepressants can induce specific alterations in alternative cellular signalling. Received 13 November 2012; Reviewed 27 December 2012; Revised 6 February 2013; Accepted 5 March 2013

publication date

  • January 1, 2013