The adaptor-associated kinase 1, AAK1, is a positive regulator of the Notch pathway.
The Notch pathway is involved in cell-cell signaling during development and adulthood from invertebrates to higher eukaryotes. Activation of the Notch receptor by its ligands relies upon a multi-step processing. The extracellular part of the receptor is removed by a metalloprotease of the ADAM family and the remaining fragment is cleaved within its transmembrane domain by a presenilin-dependent γ-secretase activity. γ-Secretase processing of Notch has been shown to depend upon monoubiquitination as well as clathrin-mediated endocytosis (CME). We show here that AAK1, the adaptor-associated kinase 1, directly interacts with the membrane-tethered active form of Notch released by metalloprotease cleavage. Active AAK1 acts upstream of the γ-secretase cleavage by stabilizing both the membrane-tethered activated form of Notch and its monoubiquitinated counterpart. We propose that AAK1 acts as an adaptor for Notch interaction with components of the clathrin-mediated pathway such as Eps15b. Moreover, transfected AAK1 increases the localization of activated Notch to Rab5-positive endocytic vesicles, while AAK1 depletion or overexpression of Numb, an inhibitor of the pathway, interferes with this localization. These results suggest that after ligand-induced activation of Notch, the membrane-tethered form can be directed to different endocytic pathways leading to distinct fates.