Mechanism of TGFbeta receptor inhibition by FKBP12.
Transforming growth factor-beta (TGFbeta) signaling requires phosphorylation of the type I receptor TbetaR-I by TbetaR-II. Although TGFbeta promotes the association of TbetaR-I with TbetaR-II, these receptor components have affinity for each other which can lead to their ligand-independent activation. The immunophilin FKBP12 binds to TbetaR-I and inhibits its signaling function. We investigated the mechanism and functional significance of this effect. FKBP12 binding to TbetaR-I involves the rapamycin/Leu-Pro binding pocket of FKBP12 and a Leu-Pro sequence located next to the activating phosphorylation sites in TbetaR-I. Mutations in the binding sites of FKBP12 or TbetaR-I abolish the interaction between these proteins, leading to receptor activation in the absence of added ligand. FKBP12 does not inhibit TbetaR-I association with TbetaR-II, but inhibits TbetaR-I phosphorylation by TbetaR-II. Rapamycin, which blocks FKBP12 binding to TbetaR-I, reverses the inhibitory effect of FKBP12 on TbetaR-I phosphorylation. By impeding the activation of TGFbeta receptor complexes formed in the absence of ligand, FKBP12 may provide a safeguard against leaky signaling resulting from the innate tendency of TbetaR-I and TbetaR-II to interact with each other.