G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) play a major role in intercellular communication by binding small diffusible ligands (agonists) at the extracellular surface. Agonist-binding induces a conformational change in the receptor, which results in the binding and activation of heterotrimeric G proteins within the cell. Ten agonist-bound structures of non-rhodopsin GPCRs published last year defined for the first time the molecular details of receptor activated states and how inverse agonists, partial agonists and full agonists bind to produce different effects on the receptor. In addition, the structure of the β(2)-adrenoceptor coupled to a heterotrimeric G protein showed how the opening of a cleft in the cytoplasmic face of the receptor as a consequence of agonist binding results in G protein coupling and activation of the G protein.
"While several previous reviews on the structure of GPCRs provide a number of insights into their mechanism of activation141516, systematic quantitative analysis is yet to be performed. We have recently reported a rational procedure for analyzing the experimental transmembrane structures of GPCRs, based on the defined selection and superimposition of heptahelical bundles consisting of 200 residues17. "
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Detailed and systematic examination of high-resolution structural data is a rational strategy for understanding the function of biological macromolecules. G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) are an exceptionally valuable superfamily of proteins for such analysis. The most intriguing question is how a variety of extracellular stimuli evoke structural changes in the intracellular surface of the receptors. The recent active-like crystal structures of GPCRs provide information for uncovering common and distinct mechanisms of light-induced and ligand-induced activation. Based on systematic structural alignment, we have analyzed 3 receptors (rhodopsin, β2 adrenergic receptor, adenosine A2A receptor) and demonstrate that the extracellular movement of helix VI is significantly different between rhodopsin and the other 2 receptors, and that the extracellular side of helix III exhibits distinct features in the 3 receptors. These findings not only emphasize the specialization of rhodopsin as a photoreceptor but also provide insights into the mechanism leading to rearrangement of helix VI.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The years 2000 and 2007 witnessed milestones in current understanding of G protein-coupled receptor (GPCR) structural biology. In 2000 the first GPCR, bovine rhodopsin, was crystallized and the structure was solved, while in 2007 the structure of β(2)-adrenergic receptor, the first GPCR with diffusible ligands, was determined owing to advances in microcrystallization and an insertion of the fast-folding lysozyme into the receptor. In parallel with those crystallographic studies, the biological and biochemical characterization of GPCRs has advanced considerably because those receptors are molecular targets for many of currently used drugs. Therefore, the mechanisms of activation and signal transduction to the cell interior deduced from known GPCRs structures are of the highest importance for drug discovery. These proteins are the most diversified membrane receptors encoded by hundreds of genes in our genome. They participate in processes responsible for vision, smell, taste and neuronal transmission in response to photons or binding of ions, hormones, peptides, chemokines and other factors. Although the GPCRs share a common seven-transmembrane α-helical bundle structure their binding sites can accommodate thousands of different ligands. The ligands, including agonists, antagonists or inverse agonists change the structure of the receptor. With bound agonists they can form a complex with a suitable G protein, be phosphorylated by kinases or bind arrestin. The discovered signaling cascades invoked by arrestin independently of G proteins makes the GPCR activating scheme more complex such that a ligand acting as an antagonist for G protein signaling can also act as an agonist in arrestin-dependent signaling. Additionally, the existence of multiple ligand-dependent partial activation states as well as dimerization of GPCRs result in a 'microprocessor-like' action of these receptors rather than an 'on-off' switch as was commonly believed only a decade ago.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: G-protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) are medically important membrane proteins that are targeted by over 30% of small molecule drugs. At the time of writing, 15 unique GPCR structures have been determined, with 77 structures deposited in the PDB database, which offers new opportunities for drug development and for understanding the molecular mechanisms of GPCR activation. Many different factors have contributed to this success, but if there is one single factor that can be singled out as the foundation for producing well-diffracting GPCR crystals, it is the stabilisation of the detergent-solubilised receptor-ligand complex. This review will focus predominantly on one of the successful strategies for the stabilisation of GPCRs, namely the thermostabilisation of GPCRs using systematic mutagenesis coupled with thermostability assays. Structures of thermostabilised GPCRs bound to a wide variety of ligands have been determined, which has led to an understanding of ligand specificity; why some ligands act as agonists as opposed to partial or inverse agonists; and the structural basis for receptor activation.
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