APPL proteins link Rab5 to nuclear signal transduction via an endosomal compartment.
Signals generated in response to extracellular stimuli at the plasma membrane are transmitted through cytoplasmic transduction cascades to the nucleus. We report the identification of a pathway directly linking the small GTPase Rab5, a key regulator of endocytosis, to signal transduction and mitogenesis. This pathway operates via APPL1 and APPL2, two Rab5 effectors, which reside on a subpopulation of endosomes. In response to extracellular stimuli such as EGF and oxidative stress, APPL1 translocates from the membranes to the nucleus where it interacts with the nucleosome remodeling and histone deacetylase multiprotein complex NuRD/MeCP1, an established regulator of chromatin structure and gene expression. Both APPL1 and APPL2 are essential for cell proliferation and their function requires Rab5 binding. Our findings identify an endosomal compartment bearing Rab5 and APPL proteins as an intermediate in signaling between the plasma membrane and the nucleus.