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1.  A shortcut from GPCR signaling to Rac-mediated actin cytoskeleton through an ELMO/DOCK complex 
Small GTPases  2012;3(3):183-185.
Chemotaxis, chemoattractant-guided directional cell migration, plays major roles in human innate immunity and in development of a model organism Dictyostelium discoideum. Human leukocytes and D. disscoideum share remarkable similarities in the molecular mechanisms that control chemotaxis. These cells use G-Protein-Coupled Receptors (GPCRs), such as chemokine receptors, to control a signaling network that carries out chemotactic gradient sensing and directs cell migration. Diverse chemokines bind to their receptors to activate small G protein Rac through an evolutionarily conserved mechanism. Elmo and Dock180 proteins form ELMO/Dock180 complexes functioning as guanine nucleotide exchange factors (GEFs) for Rac activation. However, the linkage between GPCR to Elmo/Dock180 for Rac activation that controls F-actin dynamics remained unclear. Recently, we discovered a novel function of an ELMO protein in Dictyostelium discoideum linking GPCR signaling from Gβ to actin dynamics through regulating Rac activation during chemotaxis.
PMCID: PMC3442806  PMID: 22647486
ELMO protein; G-protein-coupled receptor; Gβ subunit; Rac; chemotaxis; guanine nucleotide exchange factor (GEF); heterotrimeric G protein; small G protein; the actin cytoskeleton
2.  Phosphorylation of chemoattractant receptors regulates chemotaxis, actin reorganization and signal relay 
Journal of Cell Science  2013;126(20):4614-4626.
Migratory cells, including mammalian leukocytes and Dictyostelium, use G-protein-coupled receptor (GPCR) signaling to regulate MAPK/ERK, PI3K, TORC2/AKT, adenylyl cyclase and actin polymerization, which collectively direct chemotaxis. Upon ligand binding, mammalian GPCRs are phosphorylated at cytoplasmic residues, uncoupling G-protein pathways, but activating other pathways. However, connections between GPCR phosphorylation and chemotaxis are unclear. In developing Dictyostelium, secreted cAMP serves as a chemoattractant, with extracellular cAMP propagated as oscillating waves to ensure directional migratory signals. cAMP oscillations derive from transient excitatory responses of adenylyl cyclase, which then rapidly adapts. We have studied chemotactic signaling in Dictyostelium that express non-phosphorylatable cAMP receptors and show through chemotaxis modeling, single-cell FRET imaging, pure and chimeric population wavelet quantification, biochemical analyses and TIRF microscopy, that receptor phosphorylation is required to regulate adenylyl cyclase adaptation, long-range oscillatory cAMP wave production and cytoskeletal actin response. Phosphorylation defects thus promote hyperactive actin polymerization at the cell periphery, misdirected pseudopodia and the loss of directional chemotaxis. Our data indicate that chemoattractant receptor phosphorylation is required to co-regulate essential pathways for migratory cell polarization and chemotaxis. Our results significantly extend the understanding of the function of GPCR phosphorylation, providing strong evidence that this evolutionarily conserved mechanism is required in a signal attenuation pathway that is necessary to maintain persistent directional movement of Dictyostelium, neutrophils and other migratory cells.
PMCID: PMC3795335  PMID: 23902692
GPCR; cAMP; PI3K; TORC2; AKT; Oscillations; Heterotrimeric G proteins; ERK2
3.  Structural and functional protein network analyses predict novel signaling functions for rhodopsin 
Proteomic analyses, literature mining, and structural data were combined to generate an extensive signaling network linked to the visual G protein-coupled receptor rhodopsin. Network analysis suggests novel signaling routes to cytoskeleton dynamics and vesicular trafficking.
Using a shotgun proteomic approach, we identified the protein inventory of the light sensing outer segment of the mammalian photoreceptor.These data, combined with literature mining, structural modeling, and computational analysis, offer a comprehensive view of signal transduction downstream of the visual G protein-coupled receptor rhodopsin.The network suggests novel signaling branches downstream of rhodopsin to cytoskeleton dynamics and vesicular trafficking.The network serves as a basis for elucidating physiological principles of photoreceptor function and suggests potential disease-associated proteins.
Photoreceptor cells are neurons capable of converting light into electrical signals. The rod outer segment (ROS) region of the photoreceptor cells is a cellular structure made of a stack of around 800 closed membrane disks loaded with rhodopsin (Liang et al, 2003; Nickell et al, 2007). In disc membranes, rhodopsin arranges itself into paracrystalline dimer arrays, enabling optimal association with the heterotrimeric G protein transducin as well as additional regulatory components (Ciarkowski et al, 2005). Disruption of these highly regulated structures and processes by germline mutations is the cause of severe blinding diseases such as retinitis pigmentosa, macular degeneration, or congenital stationary night blindness (Berger et al, 2010).
Traditionally, signal transduction networks have been studied by combining biochemical and genetic experiments addressing the relations among a small number of components. More recently, large throughput experiments using different techniques like two hybrid or co-immunoprecipitation coupled to mass spectrometry have added a new level of complexity (Ito et al, 2001; Gavin et al, 2002, 2006; Ho et al, 2002; Rual et al, 2005; Stelzl et al, 2005). However, in these studies, space, time, and the fact that many interactions detected for a particular protein are not compatible, are not taken into consideration. Structural information can help discriminate between direct and indirect interactions and more importantly it can determine if two or more predicted partners of any given protein or complex can simultaneously bind a target or rather compete for the same interaction surface (Kim et al, 2006).
In this work, we build a functional and dynamic interaction network centered on rhodopsin on a systems level, using six steps: In step 1, we experimentally identified the proteomic inventory of the porcine ROS, and we compared our data set with a recent proteomic study from bovine ROS (Kwok et al, 2008). The union of the two data sets was defined as the ‘initial experimental ROS proteome'. After removal of contaminants and applying filtering methods, a ‘core ROS proteome', consisting of 355 proteins, was defined.
In step 2, proteins of the core ROS proteome were assigned to six functional modules: (1) vision, signaling, transporters, and channels; (2) outer segment structure and morphogenesis; (3) housekeeping; (4) cytoskeleton and polarity; (5) vesicles formation and trafficking, and (6) metabolism.
In step 3, a protein-protein interaction network was constructed based on the literature mining. Since for most of the interactions experimental evidence was co-immunoprecipitation, or pull-down experiments, and in addition many of the edges in the network are supported by single experimental evidence, often derived from high-throughput approaches, we refer to this network, as ‘fuzzy ROS interactome'. Structural information was used to predict binary interactions, based on the finding that similar domain pairs are likely to interact in a similar way (‘nature repeats itself') (Aloy and Russell, 2002). To increase the confidence in the resulting network, edges supported by a single evidence not coming from yeast two-hybrid experiments were removed, exception being interactions where the evidence was the existence of a three-dimensional structure of the complex itself, or of a highly homologous complex. This curated static network (‘high-confidence ROS interactome') comprises 660 edges linking the majority of the nodes. By considering only edges supported by at least one evidence of direct binary interaction, we end up with a ‘high-confidence binary ROS interactome'. We next extended the published core pathway (Dell'Orco et al, 2009) using evidence from our high-confidence network. We find several new direct binary links to different cellular functional processes (Figure 4): the active rhodopsin interacts with Rac1 and the GTP form of Rho. There is also a connection between active rhodopsin and Arf4, as well as PDEδ with Rab13 and the GTP-bound form of Arl3 that links the vision cycle to vesicle trafficking and structure. We see a connection between PDEδ with prenyl-modified proteins, such as several small GTPases, as well as with rhodopsin kinase. Further, our network reveals several direct binary connections between Ca2+-regulated proteins and cytoskeleton proteins; these are CaMK2A with actinin, calmodulin with GAP43 and S1008, and PKC with 14-3-3 family members.
In step 4, part of the network was experimentally validated using three different approaches to identify physical protein associations that would occur under physiological conditions: (i) Co-segregation/co-sedimentation experiments, (ii) immunoprecipitations combined with mass spectrometry and/or subsequent immunoblotting, and (iii) utilizing the glycosylated N-terminus of rhodopsin to isolate its associated protein partners by Concanavalin A affinity purification. In total, 60 co-purification and co-elution experiments supported interactions that were already in our literature network, and new evidence from 175 co-IP experiments in this work was added. Next, we aimed to provide additional independent experimental confirmation for two of the novel networks and functional links proposed based on the network analysis: (i) the proposed complex between Rac1/RhoA/CRMP-2/tubulin/and ROCK II in ROS was investigated by culturing retinal explants in the presence of an ROCK II-specific inhibitor (Figure 6). While morphology of the retinas treated with ROCK II inhibitor appeared normal, immunohistochemistry analyses revealed several alterations on the protein level. (ii) We supported the hypothesis that PDEδ could function as a GDI for Rac1 in ROS, by demonstrating that PDEδ and Rac1 co localize in ROS and that PDEδ could dissociate Rac1 from ROS membranes in vitro.
In step 5, we use structural information to distinguish between mutually compatible (‘AND') or excluded (‘XOR') interactions. This enables breaking a network of nodes and edges into functional machines or sub-networks/modules. In the vision branch, both ‘AND' and ‘XOR' gates synergize. This may allow dynamic tuning of light and dark states. However, all connections from the vision module to other modules are ‘XOR' connections suggesting that competition, in connection with local protein concentration changes, could be important for transmitting signals from the core vision module.
In the last step, we map and functionally characterize the known mutations that produce blindness.
In summary, this represents the first comprehensive, dynamic, and integrative rhodopsin signaling network, which can be the basis for integrating and mapping newly discovered disease mutants, to guide protein or signaling branch-specific therapies.
Orchestration of signaling, photoreceptor structural integrity, and maintenance needed for mammalian vision remain enigmatic. By integrating three proteomic data sets, literature mining, computational analyses, and structural information, we have generated a multiscale signal transduction network linked to the visual G protein-coupled receptor (GPCR) rhodopsin, the major protein component of rod outer segments. This network was complemented by domain decomposition of protein–protein interactions and then qualified for mutually exclusive or mutually compatible interactions and ternary complex formation using structural data. The resulting information not only offers a comprehensive view of signal transduction induced by this GPCR but also suggests novel signaling routes to cytoskeleton dynamics and vesicular trafficking, predicting an important level of regulation through small GTPases. Further, it demonstrates a specific disease susceptibility of the core visual pathway due to the uniqueness of its components present mainly in the eye. As a comprehensive multiscale network, it can serve as a basis to elucidate the physiological principles of photoreceptor function, identify potential disease-associated genes and proteins, and guide the development of therapies that target specific branches of the signaling pathway.
PMCID: PMC3261702  PMID: 22108793
protein interaction network; rhodopsin signaling; structural modeling
4.  T cell homeostasis requires G protein-coupled receptor-mediated access to trophic signals that promote growth and inhibit chemotaxis 
European journal of immunology  2005;35(3):786-795.
Signals that regulate T cell homeostasis are not fully understood. G protein-coupled receptors (GPCR), such as the chemokine receptors, may affect homeostasis by direct signaling or by guiding T cell migration to distinct location-restricted signals. Here, we show that blockade of Gαi-associated GPCR signaling by treatment with pertussis toxin led to T cell atrophy and shortened life-span in T cell-replete hosts and prevented T cell homeostatic growth and proliferation in T cell-deficient hosts. In vitro, however, neither GPCR inhibition nor chemokine stimulation affected T cell atrophy, survival, or proliferation. These findings suggest that GPCR signals are not trophic stimuli, but instead may be required for migration to distinct trophic signals, such as IL-7 or self-peptide/MHC. Surprisingly, while chemokines did not affect atrophy, atrophic T cells displayed increased chemokine-induced chemotaxis that was prevented by IL-7 and submitogenic anti-CD3 antibody treatment. This increase in migration was associated with increased levels of GTP-bound Rac and the ability to remodel actin. These data suggest a novel mechanism of T cell homeostasis wherein GPCR may promote T cell migration to distinct location-restricted homeostatic trophic cues for T cell survival and growth. Homeostatic trophic signals, in turn, may suppress chemokine sensitivity and cytoskeletal remodeling, to inhibit further migration.
PMCID: PMC2628485  PMID: 15719365
G protein-coupled receptor; CXCR4; IL-7; Homeostasis; Rac
5.  Chemokine GPCR Signaling Inhibits β-Catenin during Zebrafish Axis Formation 
PLoS Biology  2012;10(10):e1001403.
We identify a novel mechanism of β-catenin inhibition involving, chemokine-GPCR signaling, which limits axis formation during zebrafish embryogenesis.
Embryonic axis formation in vertebrates is initiated by the establishment of the dorsal Nieuwkoop blastula organizer, marked by the nuclear accumulation of maternal β-catenin, a transcriptional effector of canonical Wnt signaling. Known regulators of axis specification include the canonical Wnt pathway components that positively or negatively affect β-catenin. An involvement of G-protein coupled receptors (GPCRs) was hypothesized from experiments implicating G proteins and intracellular calcium in axis formation, but such GPCRs have not been identified. Mobilization of intracellular Ca2+ stores generates Ca2+ transients in the superficial blastomeres of zebrafish blastulae when the nuclear accumulation of maternal β-catenin marks the formation of the Nieuwkoop organizer. Moreover, intracellular Ca2+ downstream of non-canonical Wnt ligands was proposed to inhibit β-catenin and axis formation, but mechanisms remain unclear. Here we report a novel function of Ccr7 GPCR and its chemokine ligand Ccl19.1, previously implicated in chemotaxis and other responses of dendritic cells in mammals, as negative regulators of β-catenin and axis formation in zebrafish. We show that interference with the maternally and ubiquitously expressed zebrafish Ccr7 or Ccl19.1 expands the blastula organizer and the dorsoanterior tissues at the expense of the ventroposterior ones. Conversely, Ccr7 or Ccl19.1 overexpression limits axis formation. Epistatic analyses demonstrate that Ccr7 acts downstream of Ccl19.1 ligand and upstream of β-catenin transcriptional targets. Moreover, Ccl19/Ccr7 signaling reduces the level and nuclear accumulation of maternal β-catenin and its axis-inducing activity and can also inhibit the Gsk3β -insensitive form of β-catenin. Mutational and pharmacologic experiments reveal that Ccr7 functions during axis formation as a GPCR to inhibit β-catenin, likely by promoting Ca2+ transients throughout the blastula. Our study delineates a novel negative, Gsk3β-independent control mechanism of β-catenin and implicates Ccr7 as a long-hypothesized GPCR regulating vertebrate axis formation.
Author Summary
The arrangement of dorsoventral (back to belly) and anteroposterior (head to tail) embryonic structures is specified early during animal embryogenesis. In vertebrates, this process of axes formation is initiated by β-catenin, a transcriptional effector of Wnt signaling, which marks the prospective dorsal side. Thus far, all known regulators of axis specification that affect β-catenin include components of the Wnt pathway. G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs), as well as Ca2+ signaling, have also been hypothesized to inhibit β-catenin and axis formation, however the identity of such GPCRs has remained unclear. Here, we identify two novel regulators of axis formation: the zebrafish Ccr7 chemokine GPCR and one of its ligands, Ccl19.1, both of which are uniformly expressed in the early zebrafish embryo. We show that reducing the expression of Ccr7 or Ccl19.1 increases β-catenin levels and also the dorsoanterior tissues at the expense of the ventroposterior ones. Conversely, an excess of Ccr7 or Ccl19.1 lowers β-catenin levels and limits axis formation. Further experiments show that Ccr7 acts upstream of β-catenin transcriptional targets. Our study delineates a novel mechanism for the negative control of β-catenin, whereby Ccr7 increases β-catenin degradation in a Gsk3b-independent manner, likely by promoting Ca2+ signaling throughout the embryo. In a new model of axis specification we propose that Ccr7 acts as a long-hypothesized GPCR that provides a global inhibition of β-catenin to ensure the precise formation of embryonic axes.
PMCID: PMC3467228  PMID: 23055828
6.  Chemotaxis, chemokine receptors and human disease 
Cytokine  2008;44(1):1-8.
Cell migration is involved in diverse physiological processes including embryogenesis, immunity, and diseases such as cancer and chronic inflammatory disease. The movement of many cell types is directed by extracellular gradients of diffusible chemicals. This phenomenon, referred to as "chemotaxis", was first described in 1888 by Leber who observed the movement of leukocytes toward sites of inflammation. We now know that a large family of small proteins, chemokines, serves as the extracellular signals and a family of G-protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs), chemokine receptors, detects gradients of chemokines and guides cell movement in vivo. Currently, we still know little about the molecular machineries that control chemokine gradient sensing and migration of immune cells. Fortunately, the molecular mechanisms that control these fundamental aspects of chemotaxis appear to be evolutionarily conserved, and studies in lower eukaryotic model systems allowed us to form concepts, uncover molecular components, develop new techniques, and test models of chemotaxis. These studies have helped our current understanding of this complicated cell behavior. In this review, we wish to mention landmark discoveries in the chemotaxis research field that shaped our current understanding of this fundamental cell behavior and lay out key questions that remain to be addressed in the future.
PMCID: PMC2613022  PMID: 18722135
chemotaxis; chemokine; GPCR; actin; inflammation
7.  Identification of G protein-coupled receptor signaling pathway proteins in marine diatoms using comparative genomics 
BMC Genomics  2013;14:503.
The G protein-coupled receptor (GPCR) signaling pathway plays an essential role in signal transmission and response to external stimuli in mammalian cells. Protein components of this pathway have been characterized in plants and simpler eukaryotes such as yeast, but their presence and role in unicellular photosynthetic eukaryotes have not been determined. We use a comparative genomics approach using whole genome sequences and gene expression libraries of four diatoms (Pseudo-nitzschia multiseries, Thalassiosira pseudonana, Phaeodactylum tricornutum and Fragilariopsis cylindrus) to search for evidence of GPCR signaling pathway proteins that share sequence conservation to known GPCR pathway proteins.
The majority of the core components of GPCR signaling were well conserved in all four diatoms, with protein sequence similarity to GPCRs, human G protein α- and β-subunits and downstream effectors. There was evidence for the Gγ-subunit and thus a full heterotrimeric G protein only in T. pseudonana. Phylogenetic analysis of putative diatom GPCRs indicated similarity but deep divergence to the class C GPCRs, with branches basal to the GABAB receptor subfamily. The extracellular and intracellular regions of these putative diatom GPCR sequences exhibited large variation in sequence length, and seven of these sequences contained the necessary ligand binding domain for class C GPCR activation. Transcriptional data indicated that a number of the putative GPCR sequences are expressed in diatoms under various stress conditions in culture, and that many of the GPCR-activated signaling proteins, including the G protein, are also expressed.
The presence of sequences in all four diatoms that code for the proteins required for a functional mammalian GPCR pathway highlights the highly conserved nature of this pathway and suggests a complex signaling machinery related to environmental perception and response in these unicellular organisms. The lack of evidence for some GPCR pathway proteins in one or more of the diatoms, such as the Gγ-subunit, may be due to differences in genome completeness and genome coverage for the four diatoms. The high divergence of putative diatom GPCR sequences to known class C GPCRs suggests these sequences may represent another, potentially ancestral, subfamily of class C GPCRs.
PMCID: PMC3727952  PMID: 23883327
Cell signaling; Diatom; Environment; G protein-coupled receptor; Human health; Ocean
8.  GBF1 bears a novel phosphatidylinositol-phosphate binding module, BP3K, to link PI3Kγ activity with Arf1 activation involved in GPCR-mediated neutrophil chemotaxis and superoxide production 
Molecular Biology of the Cell  2012;23(13):2457-2467.
In neutrophils, Arf1 is activated upon GPCR stimulation. GBF1, a GEF for Arf, is primarily responsible for Arf1 activation upon GPCR stimulation and is important for chemotaxis and superoxide production. GBF1 also binds to products of PI3Kγ . The results indicate a novel mechanism that links PI3Kγ with chemotaxis and superoxide production.
Most chemoattractants for neutrophils bind to the Gαi family of heterotrimeric G protein–coupled receptors (GPCRs) and release Gβγ subunits to activate chemotaxis and superoxide production. GIT2, a GTPase-activating protein for Arf1, forms a complex with Gβγ and is integral for directional sensing and suppression of superoxide production. Here we show that GBF1, a guanine nucleotide exchanging factor for Arf-GTPases, is primarily responsible for Arf1 activation upon GPCR stimulation and is important for neutrophil chemotaxis and superoxide production. We find that GBF1 bears a novel module, namely binding to products of phosphatidyl inositol 3-kinase (PI3K), which binds to products of PI3Kγ. Through this binding, GBF1 is translocated from the Golgi to the leading edge upon GPCR stimulation to activate Arf1 and recruit p22phox and GIT2 to the leading edge. Moreover, GBF1-mediated Arf1 activation is necessary to unify cell polarity during chemotaxis. Our results identify a novel mechanism that links PI3Kγ activity with chemotaxis and superoxide production in GPCR signaling.
PMCID: PMC3386210  PMID: 22573891
9.  The adhesion-GPCR BAI3, a gene linked to psychiatric disorders, regulates dendrite morphogenesis in neurons 
Molecular Psychiatry  2013;18(8):943-950.
Adhesion-G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) are a poorly studied subgroup of the GPCRs, which have diverse biological roles and are major targets for therapeutic intervention. Among them, the Brain Angiogenesis Inhibitor (BAI) family has been linked to several psychiatric disorders, but despite their very high neuronal expression, the function of these receptors in the central nervous system has barely been analyzed. Our results, obtained using expression knockdown and overexpression experiments, reveal that the BAI3 receptor controls dendritic arborization growth and branching in cultured neurons. This role is confirmed in Purkinje cells in vivo using specific expression of a deficient BAI3 protein in transgenic mice, as well as lentivirus driven knockdown of BAI3 expression. Regulation of dendrite morphogenesis by BAI3 involves activation of the RhoGTPase Rac1 and the binding to a functional ELMO1, a critical Rac1 regulator. Thus, activation of the BAI3 signaling pathway could lead to direct reorganization of the actin cytoskeleton through RhoGTPase signaling in neurons. Given the direct link between RhoGTPase/actin signaling pathways, neuronal morphogenesis and psychiatric disorders, our mechanistic data show the importance of further studying the role of the BAI adhesion-GPCRs to understand the pathophysiology of such brain diseases.
PMCID: PMC3730300  PMID: 23628982
adhesion-GPCR; dendrite; morphogenesis; ELMO1; BAI3; Purkinje cell
10.  RAS and RHO Families of GTPases Directly Regulate Distinct Phosphoinositide 3-Kinase Isoforms 
Cell  2013;153(5):1050-1063.
RAS proteins are important direct activators of p110α, p110γ, and p110δ type I phosphoinositide 3-kinases (PI3Ks), interacting via an amino-terminal RAS-binding domain (RBD). Here, we investigate the regulation of the ubiquitous p110β isoform of PI3K, implicated in G-protein-coupled receptor (GPCR) signaling, PTEN-loss-driven cancers, and thrombocyte function. Unexpectedly, RAS is unable to interact with p110β, but instead RAC1 and CDC42 from the RHO subfamily of small GTPases bind and activate p110β via its RBD. In fibroblasts, GPCRs couple to PI3K through Dock180/Elmo1-mediated RAC activation and subsequent interaction with p110β. Cells from mice carrying mutations in the p110β RBD show reduced PI3K activity and defective chemotaxis, and these mice are resistant to experimental lung fibrosis. These findings revise our understanding of the regulation of type I PI3K by showing that both RAS and RHO family GTPases directly regulate distinct ubiquitous PI3K isoforms and that RAC activates p110β downstream of GPCRs.
Graphical Abstract
•Unlike p110α, p110γ, and p110δ PI3K isoforms, RAS is unable to interact with p110β•The RHO family GTPases RAC1 and CDC42 directly bind and activate p110β via its RBD•GPCRs couple to PI3K via Dock180/Elmo1-mediated RAC activation and binding to p110β•Mice with RBD mutant p110β are resistant to experimental lung fibrosis
RAS proteins bind and activate multiple PI3K isoforms. The p110β isoform of PI3K, however, is instead activated by the binding of RHO family members RAC and CDC42. Blocking this interaction blunts GPCR-mediated cellular chemotaxis and confers resistance to lung fibrosis.
PMCID: PMC3690480  PMID: 23706742
11.  Boolean modeling of transcriptome data reveals novel modes of heterotrimeric G-protein action 
Classical mechanisms of heterotrimeric G-protein signaling are observed to function in regulation of the transcriptome. Conversely, many theoretical regulatory modes of the G-protein are not manifested in the transcriptomes we investigate.A new mechanism of G-protein signaling is revealed, in which the β subunit regulates gene expression identically in the presence or absence of the α subunit.We find evidence of cross-talk between G-protein-mediated and hormone-mediated transcriptional regulation.We find evidence of system specificity in G-protein signaling.
Heterotrimeric G-proteins, composed of α, β, and γ subunits, participate in a wide range of signaling pathways in eukaryotes (Morris and Malbon, 1999). According to the typical, mammalian paradigm, in its inactive state, the G-protein exists as an associated heterotrimer. G-protein signaling begins with ligand binding that results in a conformational change in a G-protein-coupled receptor (GPCR). Once activated by the GPCR, the Gα separates from the associated Gβγ dimer and the freed Gα and Gβγ proteins can then interact with downstream effector molecules, alone or in combination, to transduce the signal. Subsequent to signal propagation, Gα re-associates with the Gβγ dimer to reform the G-protein complex.
There are several classical routes for signal propagation through heterotrimeric G-proteins that have been categorized in mammalian systems (Marrari et al, 2007; Dupre et al, 2009). One route, which we designate classical I, requires the presence of both subunits, and can invoke one of two distinct mechanisms. In one mechanism, on GPCR activation, freed Gα and Gβγ each interact with downstream effectors to elicit the downstream response. In a related mechanism, Gα but not Gβγ interacts with downstream effectors, but the Gβγ dimer is nevertheless required to facilitate coupling of Gα with the relevant GPCR (Marrari et al, 2007). In a second route, which we designate classical II, it is solely the Gβγ dimer that interacts with downstream effectors; in this case, sequestration of Gβγ within the heterotrimer prevents signal propagation. In addition, a few non-classical G-protein regulatory modes have also been implicated in some systems, for example signaling by the intact heterotrimer in yeast (Klein et al, 2000; Frank et al, 2005). Observations such as these lead to a fundamental question, namely, which of all the theoretical regulatory modes of G-protein signaling are realized biologically. Our study answers this question in the context of the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana, and in addition analyzes the manner in which G-protein signaling couples with signaling by the plant hormone abscisic acid. The Arabidopsis genome encodes only one canonical Gα subunit, GPA1, and one canonical Gβ subunit, AGB1, and knockout mutants are available for each of these, allowing clear dissection of Gα- and Gβ-related phenotypes.
Abscisic acid (ABA) is a major plant hormone, which inhibits growth and promotes tolerance of abiotic stresses such as drought, salinity, and cold. ABA signaling is known to interact with heterotrimeric G-protein signaling in both developmental and stress responses in a complex manner, causing, for example, ABA hyposensitivity of guard cell stomatal opening in gpa1 and agb1 single mutants as well as agb1 gpa1 double mutants (Fan et al, 2008), but ABA hypersensitivity of the inhibition of seed germination and post-germination seedling development in the same mutants (Pandey et al, 2006). These experimental observations implicate G-proteins as one of the components of ABA signaling, but to date no systematic study has been conducted in either plant or metazoan systems to define the co-regulatory modes of a G-protein and a hormone.
In this study, we conduct genome-wide gene expression profiling in G-protein subunit mutants of A. thaliana guard cells and leaves, with or without treatment with ABA. By introducing one or more mediators acting downstream of the G-protein and ABA to control transcript levels, we propose nine G-protein/ABA signaling pathways including ABA-independent G-protein signaling pathways, G-protein-independent ABA signaling pathways, and seven distinct ABA–G-protein-coupled signaling pathways (Figure 1). We develop a Boolean modeling framework to systematically enumerate 14 possible theoretical regulatory modes of the G-protein and 142 co-regulatory modes of the G-protein and ABA, and then use a pattern matching approach to associate target genes with theoretical regulatory modes.
Our analysis shows that the G-protein regulatory mode that requires the presence of both Gα and Gβγ subunits (consistent with classical I mechanisms), is well represented in both guard cells and leaves. The G-protein regulatory mode that requires a freed Gβγ subunit (classical II G-protein regulatory mechanism) is well supported in guard cells and somewhat less so in leaves. In addition, a G-protein regulatory mode representing a non-classical regulatory mechanism is prevalent in guard cells but less so in leaves (Figure 5). In this regulatory mode, signaling by Gβ(γ) occurs, and this signaling is not regulated in any way by Gα.
By relating the target genes with the nine proposed G-protein/ABA signaling pathways, we are able to gauge the plausibility of regulatory modes of the G-protein and ABA at the pathway level. We find that G-protein-independent ABA signaling pathways are prevalent in both guard cells and leaves. The existence of an ABA-independent regulatory activity of the G-protein is well supported in guard cells, but not supported in leaves. Additive regulation by G-protein signaling plus G-protein-independent ABA signaling is rare in both guard cells and leaves. In addition, combinatorial cross-talk between G-protein signaling and ABA signaling and additive cross-talk between ABA–G-protein signaling and G-protein-independent ABA signaling are observed in both guard cells and leaves. Our transcriptome analysis indicates that in some cases, ABA definitely does not influence G-protein signaling, though it may do so in some other cases.
To investigate whether previously observed hypersensitivity or hyposensitivity of developmental and dynamic transient responses to ABA in G-protein mutants is recapitulated at the level of transcriptional regulation, we compare gene regulation by ABA in guard cells and leaves of the G-protein mutants versus wild type. We find that in guard cells, equal ABA hyposensitivity of all mutants combined is significant, although hyposensitivity in individual mutants is not. There is also a separate group of genes in guard cells that show ABA hypersensitivity in the gpa1 mutant, suggesting complex interactions between ABA and G-protein signaling in gene regulation in this cell type. In leaves, ABA hyposensitivity of gene expression in the three individual mutants and equal hyposensitivity in all mutants are strongly supported. In addition, several of the functional categories identified by our analysis of G-protein regulatory modes have been implicated in previous physiological analyses of G-protein mutants, providing validation to the biological interpretation of our results.
In summary, by conducting a genome-wide gene expression profiling study in G-protein subunit mutants of A. thaliana guard cells and leaves and developing a Boolean modeling framework, we systematically evaluate the biological utilization of mechanisms of G-protein regulatory action and reveal novel regulatory modes of the G-protein. The results generate empirical evidence and insights regarding molecular events of G-protein signaling and response at the physiological level in both plants and mammals.
Heterotrimeric G-proteins mediate crucial and diverse signaling pathways in eukaryotes. Here, we generate and analyze microarray data from guard cells and leaves of G-protein subunit mutants of the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana, with or without treatment with the stress hormone, abscisic acid. Although G-protein control of the transcriptome has received little attention to date in any system, transcriptome analysis allows us to search for potentially uncommon yet significant signaling mechanisms. We describe the theoretical Boolean mechanisms of G-protein × hormone regulation, and then apply a pattern matching approach to associate gene expression profiles with Boolean models. We find that (1) classical mechanisms of G-protein signaling are well represented. Conversely, some theoretical regulatory modes of the G-protein are not supported; (2) a new mechanism of G-protein signaling is revealed, in which Gβ regulates gene expression identically in the presence or absence of Gα; (3) guard cells and leaves favor different G-protein modes in transcriptome regulation, supporting system specificity of G-protein signaling. Our method holds significant promise for analyzing analogous ‘switch-like' signal transduction events in any organism.
PMCID: PMC2913393  PMID: 20531402
abscisic acid; Arabidopsis thaliana; Boolean modeling; heterotrimeric G-protein; transcriptome
12.  Upregulation of PIP3-Dependent Rac Exchanger 1 (P-Rex1) Promotes Prostate Cancer Metastasis 
Oncogene  2009;28(16):1853-1863.
Excessive activation of G-protein coupled receptor (GPCR) and receptor tyrosine kinase (RTK) pathways has been linked to prostate cancer metastasis. Rac activation by guanine-nucleotide exchange factors (GEFs) plays an important role in directional cell migration, a critical step of tumor metastasis cascades. We found that upregulation of P-Rex1, a Rac-selective GEF synergistically activated by Gβγ freed during GPCR signaling and PIP3 generated during either RTK or GPCR signaling, strongly correlates with metastatic phenotypes in both prostate cancer cell lines and human prostate cancer specimens. Silencing endogenous P-Rex1 in metastatic prostate cancer PC-3 cells selectively inhibited Rac activity and reduced cell migration and invasion in response to ligands of both epidermal growth factor receptor and G-protein coupled CXC chemokine receptor 4. Conversely, expression of recombinant P-Rex1, but not its “GEF-dead” mutant, in non-metastatic prostate cancer CWR22Rv1 cells increased cell migration and invasion via Rac-dependent lamellipodia formation. More importantly, using a mouse xenograft model, we demonstrated that expression of P-Rex1, but not its mutant, induced lymph node metastasis of CWR22Rv1 cells without an effect on primary tumor growth. Thus, by functioning as a coincidence detector of chemotactic signals from both GPCRs and RTKs, P-Rex1-dependent activation of Rac promotes prostate cancer metastasis.
PMCID: PMC2672965  PMID: 19305425
Prostate cancer metastasis; P-Rex1; Rac-selective guanine-nucleotide exchange factor; G-protein coupled receptors; receptor tyrosine kinases
13.  Association between Gαi2 and ELMO1/Dock180 connects chemokine signalling with Rac activation and metastasis 
Nature Communications  2013;4:1706-.
The chemokine CXCL12 and its G-protein-coupled receptor CXCR4 control the migration, invasiveness and metastasis of breast cancer cells. Binding of CXCL12 to CXCR4 triggers activation of heterotrimeric Gi proteins that regulate actin polymerization and migration. However, the pathways linking chemokine G-protein-coupled receptor/Gi signalling to actin polymerization and cancer cell migration are not known. Here we show that CXCL12 stimulation promotes interaction between Gαi2 and ELMO1. Gi signalling and ELMO1 are both required for CXCL12-mediated actin polymerization, migration and invasion of breast cancer cells. CXCL12 triggers a Gαi2-dependent membrane translocation of ELMO1, which associates with Dock180 to activate small G-proteins Rac1 and Rac2. In vivo, ELMO1 expression is associated with lymph node and distant metastasis, and knocking down ELMO1 impairs metastasis to the lung. Our findings indicate that a chemokine-controlled pathway, consisting of Gαi2, ELMO1/Dock180, Rac1 and Rac2, regulates the actin cytoskeleton during breast cancer metastasis.
Chemokines promote breast cancer metastasis by stimulating re-organization of the actin cytoskeleton. Li et al. identify the human engulfment and cell motility protein ELMO1 as an intermediary between chemokine-dependent Gαi2 signalling and small GTPase signalling mediated by Rac.
PMCID: PMC3644068  PMID: 23591873
14.  Persistent cAMP-Signals Triggered by Internalized G-Protein–Coupled Receptors 
PLoS Biology  2009;7(8):e1000172.
Real-time monitoring of G-protein-coupled receptor (GPCR) signaling in native cells suggests that the receptor for thyroid stimulating hormone remains active after internalization, challenging the current model for GPCR signaling.
G-protein–coupled receptors (GPCRs) are generally thought to signal to second messengers like cyclic AMP (cAMP) from the cell surface and to become internalized upon repeated or prolonged stimulation. Once internalized, they are supposed to stop signaling to second messengers but may trigger nonclassical signals such as mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) activation. Here, we show that a GPCR continues to stimulate cAMP production in a sustained manner after internalization. We generated transgenic mice with ubiquitous expression of a fluorescent sensor for cAMP and studied cAMP responses to thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) in native, 3-D thyroid follicles isolated from these mice. TSH stimulation caused internalization of the TSH receptors into a pre-Golgi compartment in close association with G-protein αs-subunits and adenylyl cyclase III. Receptors internalized together with TSH and produced downstream cellular responses that were distinct from those triggered by cell surface receptors. These data suggest that classical paradigms of GPCR signaling may need revision, as they indicate that cAMP signaling by GPCRs may occur both at the cell surface and from intracellular sites, but with different consequences for the cell.
Author Summary
Cells respond to many environmental cues through the activity of cell surface receptor proteins, which sense these cues and convey that information to signaling molecules inside the cell. G-protein–coupled receptors (GPCRs) form the largest eukaryotic family of plasma membrane receptors. They convert the information provided by extracellular stimuli into intracellular second messengers, like cyclic AMP (cAMP). After prolonged stimulation, they are internalized inside cells, an event that to date has been thought to terminate the production of second messengers. Though many of the key steps of GPCR signaling are known in detail, precisely how signaling and termination actually occur in time and space (i.e., in subcellular compartments or microdomains) is still largely unexplored. To observe GPCR signaling in living cells, we generated mice expressing a fluorescent sensor that allows monitoring the intracellular levels of cAMP with a microscope. We utilized this system to study, directly in native thyroid follicles, the signal sent by the receptor for thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH). Our findings indicate that TSH receptors are internalized rapidly after activation but continue to stimulate cAMP production inside cells and that this sustained, cAMP production is apparently required for localized activation of downstream components. These data challenge the current model of the GPCR-cAMP pathway by suggesting the existence of previously unrecognized intracellular site(s) for cAMP generation and of differential signaling outcomes as a result of intracellular GPCR signaling. Such intracellular site(s) may provide specialized signaling platforms, thus contributing to the spatiotemporal regulation of cAMP production and to signaling specificity within the GPCR family.
PMCID: PMC2718703  PMID: 19688034
15.  Signaling through G protein coupled receptors 
Plant Signaling & Behavior  2009;4(10):942-947.
Heterotrimeric G proteins (Gα, Gβ/Gγ subunits) constitute one of the most important components of cell signaling cascade. G Protein Coupled Receptors (GPCRs) perceive many extracellular signals and transduce them to heterotrimeric G proteins, which further transduce these signals intracellular to appropriate downstream effectors and thereby play an important role in various signaling pathways. GPCRs exist as a superfamily of integral membrane protein receptors that contain seven transmembrane α-helical regions, which bind to a wide range of ligands. Upon activation by a ligand, the GPCR undergoes a conformational change and then activate the G proteins by promoting the exchange of GDP/GTP associated with the Gα subunit. This leads to the dissociation of Gβ/Gγ dimer from Gα. Both these moieties then become free to act upon their downstream effectors and thereby initiate unique intracellular signaling responses. After the signal propagation, the GTP of Gα-GTP is hydrolyzed to GDP and Gα becomes inactive (Gα-GDP), which leads to its re-association with the Gβ/Gγ dimer to form the inactive heterotrimeric complex. The GPCR can also transduce the signal through G protein independent pathway. GPCRs also regulate cell cycle progression. Till to date thousands of GPCRs are known from animal kingdom with little homology among them, but only single GPCR has been identified in plant system. The Arabidopsis GPCR was reported to be cell cycle regulated and also involved in ABA and in stress signaling. Here I have described a general mechanism of signal transduction through GPCR/G proteins, structure of GPCRs, family of GPCRs and plant GPCR and its role.
PMCID: PMC2801357  PMID: 19826234
heterotrimeric G proteins; GPCRs; seven-transmembrane receptors; signal transduction; stress signaling
16.  Tumor progression locus 2 regulates signal-induced calcium release from the endoplamic reticulum and cell migration 
Science Signaling  2011;4(187):ra55.
The mitogen-activated protein kinase kinase kinase (MAPKKK) tumor progression locus 2 (Tpl2) is required for the transduction of signals initiated by the thrombin-activated G protein-coupled receptor (GPCR) protease activated receptor-1 (PAR1), which promote reorganization of the actin cytoskeleton and cell migration. Here, we show that Tpl2 is activated through Gαi2-transduced GPCR signals. Activated Tpl2 promotes the phosphorylation and activation of phospholipase C beta 3 (PLCβ3) and, concsequently, Tpl2 is required for thrombin-dependent production of inositol 1,4,5-triphosphate (IP3), the upregulation of cytoplasmic Ca2+, and the activation of classical and novel members of the protein kinase C (PKC) family. A PKC feedback loop facilitates extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) activation in response to Tpl2 and contributes to the coordinate regulation of the ERK and Ca2+ signaling pathways. Pharmacological and genetic studies revealed that stimulation of cell migration by Tpl2 depends on both of these pathways. Tpl2 also promoted Ca2+ signals and cell migration from Gαi-coupled GPCRs other than PAR1, and from the IL-1β receptor. Our data provide new insights into the role of Tpl2 in GPCR-mediated Ca2+ signaling and cell migration. In addition, they enhance our understanding of the fundamental role of Tpl2 in innate and adaptive immunity, cancer and inflammation.
PMCID: PMC3340127  PMID: 21868363
17.  TLR4 Signaling Augments Monocyte Chemotaxis by Regulating G Protein-Coupled Receptor Kinase 2 (GRK2) Translocation 
Monocytes are critical effector cells of the innate immune system that protect the host by migrating to inflammatory sites, differentiating to macrophages and dendritic cells, eliciting immune responses, and killing pathogenic microbes. Monocyte chemoattractant protein 1(MCP-1), also known as CCL2, plays an important role in monocyte activation and migration. Chemotactic function of MCP-1 is mediated by binding to the CCR2 receptor, a member of the G protein-coupled receptor (GPCR) family. Desensitization of GPCR chemokine receptors is an important regulator of the intensity and duration of chemokine stimulation. G protein-coupled receptor kinases (GRKs) induce GPCR phosphorylation, and this leads to GPCR desensitization. Regulation of subcellular localization of GRKs is considered an important early regulatory mechanism of GRK function and subsequent GPCR desensitization. Chemokines and LPS are both present during Gram-negative bacterial infection, and LPS often synergistically exaggerates leukocyte migration in response to chemokines. In this study, we investigated the role of, and mechanism of, LPS-TLR4 signaling on the regulation of monocyte chemotaxis. We demonstrate that LPS augments MCP-1-induced monocyte migration. We also show that LPS, through p38 MAPK signaling, induces phosphorylation of GRK2 at serine 670, which, in turn, suppresses GRK2 translocation to the membrane, thereby preventing GRK2-initiated internalization and desensitization of CCR2 in response to MCP-1. This therefore results in enhanced monocyte migration. These findings reveal a novel function for TLR4 signaling in promoting innate immune cell migration.
PMCID: PMC3702632  PMID: 23772028
CCR2; GPCR; leukocyte migration; MCP-1
18.  Impaired T lymphocyte trafficking in mice deficient in an actin-nucleating protein, mDia1 
The Journal of Experimental Medicine  2007;204(9):2031-2038.
Trafficking of immune cells is controlled by directed migration of relevant cells toward chemotactic signals. Actin cytoskeleton undergoes continuous remodeling and serves as machinery for cell migration. The mDia family of formins and the Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome protein (WASP)–Arp2/3 system are two major actin nucleating–polymerizing systems in mammalian cells, with the former producing long straight actin filaments and the latter producing branched actin meshwork. Although much is known about the latter, the physiological functions of mDia proteins are unclear. We generated mice deficient in one mDia isoform, mDia1. Although mDia1−/− mice were born and developed without apparent abnormality, mDia1−/− T lymphocytes exhibited impaired trafficking to secondary lymphoid organs in vivo and showed reduced chemotaxis, little actin filament formation, and impaired polarity in response to chemotactic stimuli in vitro. Similarly, mDia1−/− thymocytes showed reduced chemotaxis and impaired egression from the thymus. These results suggest that mDia1 plays a distinct role in chemotaxis in T lymphocyte trafficking.
PMCID: PMC2118705  PMID: 17682067
19.  RasG signaling is important for optimal folate chemotaxis in Dictyostelium 
BMC Cell Biology  2014;15:13.
Signaling pathways linking receptor activation to actin reorganization and pseudopod dynamics during chemotaxis are arranged in complex networks. Dictyostelium discoideum has proven to be an excellent model system for studying these networks and a body of evidence has indicated that RasG and RasC, members of the Ras GTPase subfamily function as key chemotaxis regulators. However, recent evidence has been presented indicating that Ras signaling is not important for Dictyostelium chemotaxis. In this study, we have reexamined the role of Ras proteins in folate chemotaxis and then, having re-established the importance of Ras for this process, identified the parts of the RasG protein molecule that are involved.
A direct comparison of folate chemotaxis methodologies revealed that rasG-C- cells grown in association with a bacterial food source were capable of positive chemotaxis, only when their initial position was comparatively close to the folate source. In contrast, cells grown in axenic medium orientate randomly regardless of their distance to the micropipette. Folate chemotaxis is restored in rasG-C- cells by exogenous expression of protein chimeras containing either N- or C- terminal halves of the RasG protein.
Conflicting data regarding the importance of Ras to Dictyostelium chemotaxis were the result of differing experimental methodologies. Both axenic and bacterially grown cells require RasG for optimal folate chemotaxis, particularly in weak gradients. In strong gradients, the requirement for RasG is relaxed, but only in bacterially grown cells. Both N- and C- terminal portions of the RasG protein are important for folate chemotaxis, suggesting that there are functionally important amino acids outside the well established switch I and switch II interaction surfaces.
PMCID: PMC4021067  PMID: 24742374
Ras GTPase; Folate chemotaxis; Signalling
20.  Mammalian target of rapamycin and Rictor control neutrophil chemotaxis by regulating Rac/Cdc42 activity and the actin cytoskeleton 
Molecular Biology of the Cell  2013;24(21):3369-3380.
Rictor, a component of mammalian target of rapamycin complex 2 (mTORC2), controls neutrophil chemotaxis by regulating the dynamics of the actin cytoskeleton via Rac and Cdc42. This function of Rictor is independent of mTORC2 and the kinase activity of mTOR.
Chemotaxis allows neutrophils to seek out sites of infection and inflammation. The asymmetric accumulation of filamentous actin (F-actin) at the leading edge provides the driving force for protrusion and is essential for the development and maintenance of neutrophil polarity. The mechanism that governs actin cytoskeleton dynamics and assembly in neutrophils has been extensively explored and is still not fully understood. By using neutrophil-like HL-60 cells, we describe a pivotal role for Rictor, a component of mammalian target of rapamycin complex 2 (mTORC2), in regulating assembly of the actin cytoskeleton during neutrophil chemotaxis. Depletion of mTOR and Rictor, but not Raptor, impairs actin polymerization, leading-edge establishment, and directional migration in neutrophils stimulated with chemoattractants. Of interest, depletion of mSin1, an integral component of mTORC2, causes no detectable defects in neutrophil polarity and chemotaxis. In addition, experiments with chemical inhibition and kinase-dead mutants indicate that mTOR kinase activity and AKT phosphorylation are dispensable for chemotaxis. Instead, our results suggest that the small Rho GTPases Rac and Cdc42 serve as downstream effectors of Rictor to regulate actin assembly and organization in neutrophils. Together our findings reveal an mTORC2- and mTOR kinase–independent function and mechanism of Rictor in the regulation of neutrophil chemotaxis.
PMCID: PMC3814157  PMID: 24006489
21.  Structure Modeling of All Identified G Protein–Coupled Receptors in the Human Genome 
PLoS Computational Biology  2006;2(2):e13.
G protein–coupled receptors (GPCRs), encoded by about 5% of human genes, comprise the largest family of integral membrane proteins and act as cell surface receptors responsible for the transduction of endogenous signal into a cellular response. Although tertiary structural information is crucial for function annotation and drug design, there are few experimentally determined GPCR structures. To address this issue, we employ the recently developed threading assembly refinement (TASSER) method to generate structure predictions for all 907 putative GPCRs in the human genome. Unlike traditional homology modeling approaches, TASSER modeling does not require solved homologous template structures; moreover, it often refines the structures closer to native. These features are essential for the comprehensive modeling of all human GPCRs when close homologous templates are absent. Based on a benchmarked confidence score, approximately 820 predicted models should have the correct folds. The majority of GPCR models share the characteristic seven-transmembrane helix topology, but 45 ORFs are predicted to have different structures. This is due to GPCR fragments that are predominantly from extracellular or intracellular domains as well as database annotation errors. Our preliminary validation includes the automated modeling of bovine rhodopsin, the only solved GPCR in the Protein Data Bank. With homologous templates excluded, the final model built by TASSER has a global Cα root-mean-squared deviation from native of 4.6 Å, with a root-mean-squared deviation in the transmembrane helix region of 2.1 Å. Models of several representative GPCRs are compared with mutagenesis and affinity labeling data, and consistent agreement is demonstrated. Structure clustering of the predicted models shows that GPCRs with similar structures tend to belong to a similar functional class even when their sequences are diverse. These results demonstrate the usefulness and robustness of the in silico models for GPCR functional analysis. All predicted GPCR models are freely available for noncommercial users on our Web site (
G protein–coupled receptors (GPCRs) are a large superfamily of integral membrane proteins that transduce signals across the cell membrane. Because of the breadth and importance of the physiological roles undertaken by the GPCR family, many of its members are important pharmacological targets. Although the knowledge of a protein's native structure can provide important insight into understanding its function and for the design of new drugs, the experimental determination of the three-dimensional structure of GPCR membrane proteins has proved to be very difficult. This is demonstrated by the fact that there is only one solved GPCR structure (from bovine rhodopsin) deposited in the Protein Data Bank library. In contrast, there are no human GPCR structures in the Protein Data Bank. To address the need for the tertiary structures of human GPCRs, using just sequence information, the authors use a newly developed threading-assembly-refinement method to generate models for all 907 registered GPCRs in the human genome. About 820 GPCRs are anticipated to have correct topology and transmembrane helix arrangement. A subset of the resulting models is validated by comparison with mutagenesis experimental data, and consistent agreement is demonstrated.
PMCID: PMC1364505  PMID: 16485037
22.  Sulfotyrosines of the Kaposi's Sarcoma-Associated Herpesvirus G Protein-Coupled Receptor Promote Tumorigenesis through Autocrine Activation▿  
Journal of Virology  2010;84(7):3351-3361.
The Kaposi's sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (KSHV) G protein-coupled receptor (vGPCR) is a bona fide signaling molecule that is implicated in KSHV-associated malignancies. Whereas vGPCR activates specific cellular signaling pathways in a chemokine-independent fashion, vGPCR binds a broad spectrum of CC and CXC chemokines, and the roles of chemokines in vGPCR tumorigenesis remain poorly understood. We report here that vGPCR is posttranslationally modified by sulfate groups at tyrosine residues within its N-terminal extracellular domain. A chemokine-binding assay demonstrated that the tyrosine sulfate moieties were critical for vGPCR association with GRO-α (an agonist) but not with IP-10 (an inverse agonist). A sulfated peptide corresponding to residues 12 through 33 of vGPCR, but not the unsulfated equivalent, partially inhibited vGPCR association with GRO-α. Although the vGPCR variant lacking sulfotyrosines activated downstream signaling pathways, the ability of the unsulfated vGPCR variant to induce tumor growth in nude mice was significantly diminished. Furthermore, the unsulfated vGPCR variant was unable to induce the secretion of proliferative cytokines, some of which serve as vGPCR agonists. This implies that autocrine activation by agonist chemokines is critical for vGPCR tumorigenesis. Indeed, GRO-α increased vGPCR-mediated AKT phosphorylation and vGPCR tumorigenesis in a sulfotyrosine-dependent manner. Our findings support the conclusion that autocrine activation triggered by chemokine agonists via sulfotyrosines is necessary for vGPCR tumorigenesis, thereby providing a rationale for future therapeutic design targeting the tumorigenic vGPCR.
PMCID: PMC2838108  PMID: 20106924
23.  G-protein-coupled receptors participate in cytokinesis 
Cytoskeleton (Hoboken, N.J.)  2012;69(10):810-818.
Cytokinesis, the last step during cell division, is a highly coordinated process that involves the relay of signals from both the outside and inside of the cell. We have a basic understanding of how cells regulate internal events, but how cells respond to extracellular cues is less explored. In a systematic RNAi screen of G-protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) and their effectors, we found that some GPCRs are involved in cytokinesis. RNAi knockdown of these GPCRs caused increased binucleated cell formation, and live cell imaging showed that most formed midbodies but failed at the abscission stage. OR2A4 localized to cytokinetic structures in cells and its knockdown caused cytokinesis failure at an earlier stage, likely due to effects on the actin cytoskeleton. Identifying the downstream components that transmit GPCR signals during cytokinesis will be the next step and we show that GIPC1, an adaptor protein for GPCRs, may play a part. RNAi knockdown of GIPC1 significantly increased binucleated cell formation. Understanding the molecular details of GPCRs and their interaction proteins in cytokinesis regulation will give us important clues about GPCRs signaling as well as how cells communicate with their environment during division.
PMCID: PMC4137143  PMID: 22888021
24.  The two neutrophil members of the formylpeptide receptor family activate the NADPH-oxidase through signals that differ in sensitivity to a gelsolin derived phosphoinositide-binding peptide 
BMC Cell Biology  2004;5:50.
The formylpeptide receptor family members FPR and FPRL1, expressed in myeloid phagocytes, belong to the G-protein coupled seven transmembrane receptor family (GPCRs). They share a high degree of sequence similarity, particularly in the cytoplasmic domains involved in intracellular signaling. The established model of cell activation through GPCRs states that the receptors isomerize from an inactive to an active state upon ligand binding, and this receptor transformation subsequently activates the signal transducing G-protein. Accordingly, the activation of human neutrophil FPR and FPRL1 induces identical, pertussis toxin-sensitive functional responses and a transient increase in intracellular calcium is followed by a secretory response leading to mobilization of receptors from intracellular stores, as well as a release of reactive oxygen metabolites.
We report that a cell permeable ten amino acid peptide (PBP10) derived from the phosphatidylinositol 4,5-bisphosphate (PIP2) binding region of gelsolin (an uncapper of actin filaments) blocks granule mobilization as well as secretion of oxygen radicals. The inhibitory effect of PBP10 is, however, receptor specific and affects the FPRL1-, but not the FPR-, induced cellular response. The transient rise in intracellular calcium induced by the active receptors is not affected by PBP10, suggesting that the blockage occurs in a parallel, novel signaling pathway used by FPRL1 to induce oxygen radical production and secretion. Also the FPR can activate neutrophils through a PBP10-sensitive signaling pathway, but this signal is normally blocked by the cytoskeleton.
This study demonstrates that the two very closely related chemoattractant receptors, FPR and FPRL1, use distinct signaling pathways in activation of human neutrophils. The PIP2-binding peptide PBP10 selectively inhibits FPRL1-mediated superoxide production and granule mobilization. Furthermore, the activity of this novel PBP10 sensitive pathway in neutrophils is modulated by the actin cytoskeleton network.
PMCID: PMC545074  PMID: 15625007
25.  WD40-repeat proteins control the flow of Gβγ signaling for directional cell migration 
Cell Adhesion & Migration  2013;7(2):214-218.
The ability of cells to generate a highly polarized intracellular signal through G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) is essential for their migration toward chemoattractants. The Gβγ subunits of heterotrimeric G proteins play a critical role in transmitting chemotactic signals from GPCRs via the activation of diverse effectors, including PLCβ and PI3K, primarily at the leading edge of cells. Although Gβγ can directly activate many of these effectors through protein-protein interactions in vitro, it remains unclear how Gβγ spatially and temporally orchestrates the activation of these effectors in vivo. A yeast two-hybrid screen for Gβ interacting proteins identified two WD40-repeat domain containing proteins, RACK1 and WDR26, which are predicted to serve as scaffolding/adaptor proteins. Previous data indicates that RACK1 negatively regulates Gβγ-mediated leukocyte migration by inhibiting Gβγ-stimulated PLCβ and PI3K activities. In contrast, recently published work by Sun et al. indicates that WDR26 promotes leukocyte migration by enhancing Gβγ-mediated signal transduction. These findings reveal a novel mechanism regulating Gβγ signaling during chemotaxis, namely through the positive and negative regulation of WDR26 and RACK1 on Gβγ to promote and fine tune Gβγ-mediated effector activation, ultimately governing the ability of cells to polarize and migrate toward a chemoattractant gradient.
PMCID: PMC3954032  PMID: 23302952
chemotaxis; G proteins; WD40 proteins; signal transduction; G protein-coupled receptors

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