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1.  Ubiquitin-dependent regulation of G protein-coupled receptor trafficking and signaling 
Cellular signalling  2012;25(3):707-716.
G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) belong to one of the largest family of signaling receptors in the mammalian genome [1]. GPCRs elicit cellular responses to multiple diverse stimuli and play essential roles in human health and disease. GPCRs have important clinical implications in various diseases and are the targets of approximately 25–50% of all marketed drugs [2, 3]. Understanding how GPCRs are regulated is essential to delineating their role in normal physiology and in the pathophysiology of several diseases. Given the vast number and diversity of GPCRs, it is likely that multiple mechanisms exist to regulate GPCR function. While GPCR signaling is typically regulated by desensitization and endocytosis mediated by phosphorylation and β-arrestins, it can also be modulated by ubiquitination. Ubiquitination is emerging an important regulatory process that may have unique roles in governing GPCR trafficking and signaling. Recent studies have revealed a mechanistic link between GPCR phosphorylation, β-arrestins and ubiquitination that may be applicable to some GPCRs but not others. While the function of ubiquitination is generally thought to promote receptor endocytosis and endosomal sorting, recent studies have revealed that ubiquitination also plays an important role in positive regulation of GPCR signaling. Here, we will review recent developments in our understanding of how ubiquitin regulates GPCR endocytic trafficking and how it contributes to signal transduction induced by GPCR activation.
PMCID: PMC3593103  PMID: 23201781
G protein-coupled receptor; beta-arrestin; endocytosis; ubiquitination; ligase; sorting; lysosome; downregulation
2.  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
3.  Identification of GPCR-Interacting Cytosolic Proteins Using HDL Particles and Mass Spectrometry-Based Proteomic Approach 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(1):e54942.
G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) have critical roles in various physiological and pathophysiological processes, and more than 40% of marketed drugs target GPCRs. Although the canonical downstream target of an agonist-activated GPCR is a G protein heterotrimer; there is a growing body of evidence suggesting that other signaling molecules interact, directly or indirectly, with GPCRs. However, due to the low abundance in the intact cell system and poor solubility of GPCRs, identification of these GPCR-interacting molecules remains challenging. Here, we establish a strategy to overcome these difficulties by using high-density lipoprotein (HDL) particles. We used the β2-adrenergic receptor (β2AR), a GPCR involved in regulating cardiovascular physiology, as a model system. We reconstituted purified β2AR in HDL particles, to mimic the plasma membrane environment, and used the reconstituted receptor as bait to pull-down binding partners from rat heart cytosol. A total of 293 proteins were identified in the full agonist-activated β2AR pull-down, 242 proteins in the inverse agonist-activated β2AR pull-down, and 210 proteins were commonly identified in both pull-downs. A small subset of the β2AR-interacting proteins isolated was confirmed by Western blot; three known β2AR-interacting proteins (Gsα, NHERF-2, and Grb2) and 3 newly identified known β2AR-interacting proteins (AMPKα, acetyl-CoA carboxylase, and UBC-13). Profiling of the identified proteins showed a clear bias toward intracellular signal transduction pathways, which is consistent with the role of β2AR as a cell signaling molecule. This study suggests that HDL particle-reconstituted GPCRs can provide an effective platform method for the identification of GPCR binding partners coupled with a mass spectrometry-based proteomic analysis.
PMCID: PMC3556083  PMID: 23372797
4.  S-Nitrosothiols modulate G protein-coupled receptor signaling in a reversible and highly receptor-specific manner 
BMC Cell Biology  2005;6:21.
Recent studies indicate that the G protein-coupled receptor (GPCR) signaling machinery can serve as a direct target of reactive oxygen species, including nitric oxide (NO) and S-nitrosothiols (RSNOs). To gain a broader view into the way that receptor-dependent G protein activation – an early step in signal transduction – might be affected by RSNOs, we have studied several receptors coupling to the Gi family of G proteins in their native cellular environment using the powerful functional approach of [35S]GTPγS autoradiography with brain cryostat sections in combination with classical G protein activation assays.
We demonstrate that RSNOs, like S-nitrosoglutathione (GSNO) and S-nitrosocysteine (CysNO), can modulate GPCR signaling via reversible, thiol-sensitive mechanisms probably involving S-nitrosylation. RSNOs are capable of very targeted regulation, as they potentiate the signaling of some receptors (exemplified by the M2/M4 muscarinic cholinergic receptors), inhibit others (P2Y12 purinergic, LPA1lysophosphatidic acid, and cannabinoid CB1 receptors), but may only marginally affect signaling of others, such as adenosine A1, μ-opioid, and opiate related receptors. Amplification of M2/M4 muscarinic responses is explained by an accelerated rate of guanine nucleotide exchange, as well as an increased number of high-affinity [35S]GTPγS binding sites available for the agonist-activated receptor. GSNO amplified human M4 receptor signaling also under heterologous expression in CHO cells, but the effect diminished with increasing constitutive receptor activity. RSNOs markedly inhibited P2Y12 receptor signaling in native tissues (rat brain and human platelets), but failed to affect human P2Y12 receptor signaling under heterologous expression in CHO cells, indicating that the native cellular signaling partners, rather than the P2Y12 receptor protein, act as a molecular target for this action.
These in vitro studies show for the first time in a broader general context that RSNOs are capable of modulating GPCR signaling in a reversible and highly receptor-specific manner. Given that the enzymatic machinery responsible for endogenous NO production is located in close proximity with the GPCR signaling complex, especially with that for several receptors whose signaling is shown here to be modulated by exogenous RSNOs, our data suggest that GPCR signaling in vivo is likely to be subject to substantial, and highly receptor-specific modulation by NO-derived RSNOs.
PMCID: PMC1090567  PMID: 15850493
5.  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
6.  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
7.  Minireview: Targeting GPCR Activated ERK Pathways for Drug Discovery 
It has become clear in recent years that multiple signal transduction pathways are employed upon GPCR activation. One of the major cellular effectors activated by GPCRs is extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK). Both G-protein and β-arrestin mediated signaling pathways can lead to ERK activation. However, depending on activation pathway, the subcellular destination of activated ERK1/2 may be different. G-protein -dependent ERK activation results in the translocation of active ERK to the nucleus, whereas ERK activated via an arrestin-dependent mechanism remains largely in the cytoplasm. The subcellular location of activated ERK1/2 determines the downstream signaling cascade. Many substrates of ERK1/2 are found in the nucleus: nuclear transcription factors that participate in gene transcription, cell proliferation and differentiation. ERK1/2 substrates are also found in cytosol and other cellular organelles: they may play roles in translation, mitosis, apoptosis and cross-talk with other signaling pathways. Therefore, determining specific subcellular locations of activated ERK1/2 mediated by GPCR ligands would be important in correlating signaling pathways with cellular physiological functions. While GPCR-stimulated selective ERK pathway activation has been studied in several receptor systems, exploitation of these different signaling cascades for therapeutics has not yet been seriously pursued. Many old drug candidates were identified from screens based on G-protein signaling assays, and their activity on β-arrestin signaling pathways being mostly unknown, especially regarding their subcellular ERK pathways. With today’s knowledge of complicated GPCR signaling pathways, drug discovery can no longer rely on single-pathway approaches. Since ERK activation is an important signaling pathway and associated with many physiological functions, targeting the ERK pathway, especially specific subcellular activation pathways should provide new avenues for GPCR drug discovery.
PMCID: PMC3854659  PMID: 24396730
GPCR; G-protein coupled receptor; ERK; extracellular signal-regulated kinase; nucleus; cytoplasm; subcellular localization; drug discovery.
8.  Computational methods in drug design: Modeling G protein-coupled receptor monomers, dimers, and oligomers 
The AAPS Journal  2006;8(2):E322-E336.
G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) are membrane proteins that serve as very important links through which cellular signal transduction mechanisms are activated. Many vital physiological events such as sensory perception, immune defense, cell communication, chemotaxis, and neuro-transmission are mediated by GPCRs. Not surprisingly, GPCRs are major targets for drug development today. Most modeling studies in the GPCR field have focused upon the creation of a model of a single GPCR (ie, a GPCR monomer) based upon the crystal structure of the Class A GPCR, rhodopsin. However, the emerging concept of GPCR dimerization has challenged our notions of the monomeric GPCR as functional unit. Recent work has shown not only that many GPCRs exist as homo- and heterodimers but also that GPCR oligomeric assembly may have important functional roles. This review focuses first on methodology for the creation of monomeric GPCR models. Special emphasis is given to the identification of localized regions where the structure of a GPCR may diverge from that of bovine rhodopsin. The review then focuses on GPCR dimers and oligomers and the bioinformatics methods available for identifying homo- and heterodimer interfaces.
PMCID: PMC3231557  PMID: 16796383
GPCR modeling; GPCR dimer; GPCR oligomer
9.  GPCR-SSFE: A comprehensive database of G-protein-coupled receptor template predictions and homology models 
BMC Bioinformatics  2011;12:185.
G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) transduce a wide variety of extracellular signals to within the cell and therefore have a key role in regulating cell activity and physiological function. GPCR malfunction is responsible for a wide range of diseases including cancer, diabetes and hyperthyroidism and a large proportion of drugs on the market target these receptors. The three dimensional structure of GPCRs is important for elucidating the molecular mechanisms underlying these diseases and for performing structure-based drug design. Although structural data are restricted to only a handful of GPCRs, homology models can be used as a proxy for those receptors not having crystal structures. However, many researchers working on GPCRs are not experienced homology modellers and are therefore unable to benefit from the information that can be gleaned from such three-dimensional models. Here, we present a comprehensive database called the GPCR-SSFE, which provides initial homology models of the transmembrane helices for a large variety of family A GPCRs.
Extending on our previous theoretical work, we have developed an automated pipeline for GPCR homology modelling and applied it to a large set of family A GPCR sequences. Our pipeline is a fragment-based approach that exploits available family A crystal structures. The GPCR-SSFE database stores the template predictions, sequence alignments, identified sequence and structure motifs and homology models for 5025 family A GPCRs. Users are able to browse the GPCR dataset according to their pharmacological classification or search for results using a UniProt entry name. It is also possible for a user to submit a GPCR sequence that is not contained in the database for analysis and homology model building. The models can be viewed using a Jmol applet and are also available for download along with the alignments.
The data provided by GPCR-SSFE are useful for investigating general and detailed sequence-structure-function relationships of GPCRs, performing structure-based drug design and for better understanding the molecular mechanisms underlying disease-associated mutations in GPCRs. The effectiveness of our multiple template and fragment approach is demonstrated by the accuracy of our predicted homology models compared to recently published crystal structures.
PMCID: PMC3113946  PMID: 21605354
10.  Kaposi's Sarcoma-Associated Herpesvirus K7 Induces Viral G Protein-Coupled Receptor Degradation and Reduces Its Tumorigenicity 
PLoS Pathogens  2008;4(9):e1000157.
The Kaposi's sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (KSHV) genome encodes a G protein-coupled receptor (vGPCR). vGPCR is a ligand-independent, constitutively active signaling molecule that promotes cell growth and proliferation; however, it is not clear how vGPCR is negatively regulated. We report here that the KSHV K7 small membrane protein interacts with vGPCR and induces its degradation, thereby dampening vGPCR signaling. K7 interaction with vGPCR is readily detected in transiently transfected human cells. Mutational analyses reveal that the K7 transmembrane domain is necessary and sufficient for this interaction. Biochemical and confocal microscopy studies indicate that K7 retains vGPCR in the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) and induces vGPCR proteasomeal degradation. Indeed, the knockdown of K7 by shRNA-mediated silencing increases vGPCR protein expression in BCBL-1 cells that are induced for KSHV lytic replication. Interestingly, K7 expression significantly reduces vGPCR tumorigenicity in nude mice. These findings define a viral factor that negatively regulates vGPCR protein expression and reveal a post-translational event that modulates GPCR-dependent transformation and tumorigenicity.
Author Summary
Kaposi's sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (KSHV) is the etiological agent of Kaposi's sarcoma. KSHV is also found in primary effusion lymphoma and multicentric Castleman's disease, rare lymphoproliferative diorders associated with immuno-suppression. The KSHV genome encodes a G protein-coupled receptor (vGPCR) that is believed to contribute to the KSHV-associated malignancies. vGPCR is a ligand-independent, constitutively active signaling molecule. It is not clear how vGPCR is negatively regulated. Here, we report that the KSHV small membrane K7 protein interacts with vGPCR through its putative transmembrane domain. Interaction with K7 retains vGPCR in the ER and facilitates its degradation by the proteasome, thereby reducing vGPCR protein expression. Consequently, K7 significantly reduces vGPCR-mediated transformation in vitro and tumor formation in nude mice. Our findings reveal that K7 functions as a viral factor to dampen vGPCR protein expression and negatively modulate the tumor-inducing capacity of vGPCR, implying that KSHV has evolved mechanisms to avoid deleterious effects and to permit persistent infection within its host.
PMCID: PMC2529400  PMID: 18802460
11.  Engineered G-protein Coupled Receptors are Powerful Tools to Investigate Biological Processes and Behaviors  
Understanding how discreet tissues and neuronal circuits function in relation to the whole organism to regulate physiological processes and behaviors is a fundamental goal of modern biological science. Powerful and important new tools in this discovery process are modified G-protein coupled receptors (GPCRs) known as ‘Receptors Activated Solely by Synthetic Ligands (RASSLs),’ and ‘Designer Receptors Exclusively Activated by a Designer Drug (DREADDs).’ Collectively, these are GPCRs modified either through rational design or directed molecular evolution, that do not respond to native ligand, but functionally respond only to synthetic ligands. Importantly, the utility of these receptors is not limited to examination of the role of GPCR-coupled effector signal transduction pathways. Due to the near ubiquitous expression of GPCRs throughout an organism, this technology, combined with whole animal transgenics to selectively target expression, has the ability to regulate activity of discreet tissues and neuronal circuits through effector pathway modulation to study function and behavior throughout the organism. Advantages over other systems currently used to modify in vivo function include the ability to rapidly, selectively and reversibly manipulate defined signal transduction pathways both in short term and long term studies, and no need for specialized equipment due to convenient systemic treatment with activating ligand.
PMCID: PMC2773177  PMID: 19893765
G-protein coupled receptors; Receptors Activated Solely by Synthetic Ligands; Designer Receptors Exclusively Activated by a Designer Drug; signal transduction; muscarinic receptor; opioid receptor; serotonin receptor; transgenic
12.  Regulators of G Protein Signaling in the Heart and their Potential as Therapeutic Targets 
Circulation research  2011;109(3):320-333.
Signal transduction via G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) is central for the regulation of virtually all cellular functions and has been widely implicated in human disease. Regulators of G protein Signaling (RGS proteins) belong to a diverse protein family that was originally discovered for their ability to accelerate signal termination in response to GPCR stimulation, thereby reducing the amplitude and duration of GPCR effects. All RGS proteins share a common RGS domain that interacts with G protein α subunits and mediates their biologic regulation of GPCR signaling. However, RGS proteins differ widely in size and the organization of their sequences flanking the RGS domain, which contain several additional functional domains that facilitate protein-protein (or protein-lipid) interactions. RGS proteins are subject to posttranslational modifications, and, in addition, their expression, activity, and subcellular localization can be dynamically regulated. Thus, there exist a wide array of mechanisms that facilitate their proper function as modulators and integrators of G protein signaling. Several RGS proteins have been implicated in the cardiac remodeling response and heart rate regulation, and changes in RGS protein expression and/or function are believed to participate in the pathophysiology of cardiac hypertrophy, failure and arrhythmias as well as hypertension. This review is based on recent advances in our understanding of the expression pattern, regulation and functional role of canonical RGS proteins, with a special focus on the healthy and diseased heart. In addition, we discuss their potential and promise as therapeutic targets as well as strategies to modulate their expression and function.
PMCID: PMC3230557  PMID: 21778436
RGS proteins; signal transduction; myocardium; cardiac myocytes; cardiac fibroblasts
13.  Receptor Oligomerization in Family B1 of G-Protein-Coupled Receptors: Focus on BRET Investigations and the Link between GPCR Oligomerization and Binding Cooperativity 
The superfamily of the seven transmembrane G-protein-coupled receptors (7TM/GPCRs) is the largest family of membrane-associated receptors. GPCRs are involved in the pathophysiology of numerous human diseases, and they constitute an estimated 30–40% of all drug targets. During the last two decades, GPCR oligomerization has been extensively studied using methods like bioluminescence resonance energy transfer (BRET) and today, receptor–receptor interactions within the GPCR superfamily is a well-established phenomenon. Evidence of the impact of GPCR oligomerization on, e.g., ligand binding, receptor expression, and signal transduction indicates the physiological and pharmacological importance of these receptor interactions. In contrast to the larger and more thoroughly studied GPCR subfamilies A and C, the B1 subfamily is small and comprises only 15 members, including, e.g., the secretin receptor, the glucagon receptor, and the receptors for parathyroid hormone (PTHR1 and PTHR2). The dysregulation of several family B1 receptors is involved in diseases, such as diabetes, chronic inflammation, and osteoporosis which underlines the pathophysiological importance of this GPCR subfamily. In spite of this, investigation of family B1 receptor oligomerization and especially its pharmacological importance is still at an early stage. Even though GPCR oligomerization is a well-established phenomenon, there is a need for more investigations providing a direct link between these interactions and receptor functionality in family B1 GPCRs. One example of the functional effects of GPCR oligomerization is the facilitation of allosterism including cooperativity in ligand binding to GPCRs. Here, we review the currently available data on family B1 GPCR homo- and heteromerization, mainly based on BRET investigations. Furthermore, we cover the functional influence of oligomerization on ligand binding as well as the link between oligomerization and binding cooperativity.
PMCID: PMC3355942  PMID: 22649424
GPCRs; family B1; oligomerization; BRET; binding cooperativity
14.  G Protein βγ Subunits as Targets for Small Molecule Therapeutic Development 
G proteins mediate the action of G protein coupled receptors (GPCRs), a major target of current pharmaceuticals and a major target of interest in future drug development. Most pharmaceutical interest has been in the development of selective GPCR agonists and antagonists that activate or inhibit specific GPCRs. Some recent thinking has focused on the idea that some pathologies are the result of the actions of an array of GPCRs suggesting that targeting single receptors may have limited efficacy. Thus, targeting pathways common to multiple GPCRs that control critical pathways involved in disease has potential therapeutic relevance. G protein βγ subunits released from some GPCRs upon receptor activation regulate a variety of downstream pathways to control various aspects of mammalian physiology. There is evidence from cell-based and animal models that excess Gβγ signaling can be detrimental and blocking Gβγ signaling has salutary effects in a number of pathological models. Gβγ regulates downstream pathways through modulation of enzymes that produce cellular second messengers or through regulation of ion channels by direct protein-protein interactions. Thus, blocking Gβγ functions requires development of small molecule agents that disrupt Gβγ protein interactions with downstream partners. Here we discuss evidence that small molecule targeting Gβγ could be of therapeutic value. The concept of disruption of protein-protein interactions by targeting a “hot spot” on Gβγ is delineated and the biochemical and virtual screening strategies for identification of small molecules that selectively target Gβγ functions are outlined. Evaluation of the effectiveness of virtual screening indicates that computational screening enhanced identification of true Gβγ binding molecules. However, further refinement of the approach could significantly improve the yield of Gβγ binding molecules from this screen that could result in multiple candidate leads for future drug development.
PMCID: PMC2688719  PMID: 18537559
G protein βγ subunits; GRK2ct; computational screening; G protein-coupled receptor; small molecule targeting; protein-protein interactions; G protein signaling
15.  Structural Aspects of GPCR-G Protein Coupling 
Toxicological Research  2013;29(3):149-155.
G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) are membrane receptors; approximately 40% of drugs on the market target GPCRs. A precise understanding of the activation mechanism of GPCRs would facilitate the development of more effective and less toxic drugs. Heterotrimeric G proteins are important molecular switches in GPCR-mediated signal transduction. An agonist-activated receptor interacts with specific sites on G proteins and promotes the release of GDP from the Gα subunit. Because of the important biological role of the GPCR-G protein coupling, conformational changes in the G protein upon receptor coupling have been of great interest. One of the most important questions was the interface between the GPCR and G proteins and the structural mechanism of GPCR-induced G protein activation. A number of biochemical and biophysical studies have been performed since the late 80s to address these questions; there was a significant breakthrough in 2011 when the crystal structure of a GPCR-G protein complex was solved. This review discusses the structural aspects of GPCR-G protein coupling by comparing the results of previous biochemical and biophysical studies to the GPCR-G protein crystal structure.
PMCID: PMC3877993  PMID: 24386514
GPCR; G protein; Structure
16.  Functional Consequences of GPCR Heterodimerization: GPCRs as Allosteric Modulators 
Pharmaceuticals  2011;4(3):509-523.
G Protein Coupled Receptors (GPCRs) represent the largest family of membrane proteins in the human genome, are the targets of approximately 25% of all marketed pharmaceuticals, and the focus of intensive research worldwide given that this superfamily of receptors is as varied in function as it is ubiquitously expressed among all cell types. Increasing evidence has shown that the classical two part model of GPCR signaling (one GPCR, one type of heterotrimeric G protein) is grossly oversimplified as many GPCRs can couple to more than one type of G protein, each subunit of the heterotrimeric G protein can activate different downstream effectors, and, surprisingly, other GPCRs can affect receptor behavior in G protein-independent ways. The concept of GPCR heterodimerization, or the physical association of two different types of GPCRs, presents an unexpected mechanism for GPCR regulation and function, and provides a novel target for pharmaceuticals. Here we present a synopsis of the functional consequences of GPCR heterodimerization in both in vitro and in vivo studies, focusing on the concept of GPCRs as allosteric modulators. Typically, an allosteric modulator is a ligand or molecule that alters a receptor's innate functional properties, but here we propose that in the case of GPCR heterodimers, it is the physical coupling of two receptors that leads to changes in cognate receptor signaling.
PMCID: PMC4053800
GPCR; heterodimer; allosteric modulator
17.  RGS9-2: probing an intracellular modulator of behavior as a drug target 
Regulators of G-protein signaling (RGS proteins) comprise a large family of signal transduction molecules that modulate G-protein-coupled-receptor (GPCR) function. Among the RGS proteins expressed in the brain, RGS9-2 is very abundant in the striatum, a brain region involved in movement, motivation, mood and addiction. This protein negatively modulates signal transduction thus playing a key part in striatal function and resultant behavioral responses. In particular, there is evidence of important interactions with μ-opioid- and dopamine D2-receptor signaling pathways. Several studies indicate that manipulations of RGS9-2 levels in the striatum might greatly affect pharmacological responses. These findings indicate that treatment strategies targeting RGS9-2 levels or activity might be used to enhance responses to drugs acting at GPCRs and/or prevent undesired drug actions.
PMCID: PMC3394094  PMID: 19211160
18.  GPCR Heterodimerization in the Reproductive System: Functional Regulation and Implication for Biodiversity 
A G protein-coupled receptor (GPCR) functions not only as a monomer or homodimer but also as a heterodimer with another GPCR. GPCR heterodimerization results in the modulation of the molecular functions of the GPCR protomer, including ligand binding affinity, signal transduction, and internalization. There has been a growing body of reports on heterodimerization of multiple GPCRs expressed in the reproductive system and the resultant functional modulation, suggesting that GPCR heterodimerization is closely associated with reproduction including the secretion of hormones and the growth and maturation of follicles and oocytes. Moreover, studies on heterodimerization among paralogs of gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) receptors of a protochordate, Ciona intestinalis, verified the species-specific regulation of the functions of GPCRs via multiple GnRH receptor pairs. These findings indicate that GPCR heterodimerization is also involved in creating biodiversity. In this review, we provide basic and current knowledge regarding GPCR heterodimers and their functional modulation, and explore the biological significance of GPCR heterodimerization.
PMCID: PMC3744054  PMID: 23966979
GPCR; heterodimer; reproduction; diversity hormones
19.  RINGdb: An integrated database for G protein-coupled receptors and regulators of G protein signaling 
BMC Genomics  2006;7:317.
Many marketed therapeutic agents have been developed to modulate the function of G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs). The regulators of G-protein signaling (RGS proteins) are also being examined as potential drug targets. To facilitate clinical and pharmacological research, we have developed a novel integrated biological database called RINGdb to provide comprehensive and organized RGS protein and GPCR information.
RINGdb contains information on mutations, tissue distributions, protein-protein interactions, diseases/disorders and other features, which has been automatically collected from the Internet and manually extracted from the literature. In addition, RINGdb offers various user-friendly query functions to answer different questions about RGS proteins and GPCRs such as their possible contribution to disease processes, the putative direct or indirect relationship between RGS proteins and GPCRs. RINGdb also integrates organized database cross-references to allow users direct access to detailed information. The database is now available at .
RINGdb is the only integrated database on the Internet to provide comprehensive RGS protein and GPCR information. This knowledgebase will be useful for clinical research, drug discovery and GPCR signaling pathway research.
PMCID: PMC1764023  PMID: 17173697
20.  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
21.  G protein-coupled receptor kinases: more than just kinases and not only for GPCRs 
Pharmacology & therapeutics  2011;133(1):40-69.
G protein-coupled receptor (GPCR) kinases (GRKs) are best known for their role in homologous desensitization of GPCRs. GRKs phosphorylate activated receptors and promote high affinity binding of arrestins, which precludes G protein coupling. GRKs have a multidomain structure, with the kinase domain inserted into a loop of a regulator of G protein signaling homology domain. Unlike many other kinases, GRKs do not need to be phosphorylated in their activation loop to achieve an activated state. Instead, they are directly activated by docking with active GPCRs. In this manner they are able to selectively phosphorylate Ser/Thr residues on only the activated form of the receptor, unlike related kinases such as protein kinase A. GRKs also phosphorylate a variety of non-GPCR substrates and regulate several signaling pathways via direct interactions with other proteins in a phosphorylation-independent manner. Multiple GRK subtypes are present in virtually every animal cell, with the highest expression levels found in neurons, with their extensive and complex signal regulation. Insufficient or excessive GRK activity was implicated in a variety of human disorders, ranging from heart failure to depression to Parkinson’s disease. As key regulators of GPCR-dependent and -independent signaling pathways, GRKs are emerging drug targets and promising molecular tools for therapy. Targeted modulation of expression and/or of activity of several GRK isoforms for therapeutic purposes was recently validated in cardiac disorders and Parkinson’s disease.
PMCID: PMC3241883  PMID: 21903131
G protein-coupled receptors; G protein-coupled receptor kinases; signaling; regulation; phosphorylation; G proteins; regulator of G protein signaling
22.  Modulating G-protein Coupled Receptor/G-protein signal transduction by small molecules suggested by virtual screening 
Journal of medicinal chemistry  2008;51(17):5297-5303.
Modulation of interactions between activated GPCRs (G-protein coupled receptors) and the intracellular (IC) signal transducers, heterotrimeric G-proteins, is an attractive, yet essentially unexplored, paradigm for treatment of certain diseases. Regulating downstream signaling for treatment of congenital diseases due to constitutively active GPCRs, as well as tumors where GPCRs are often overexpressed, requires the development of new methodologies. MEDSET (Modeling, Experimental data, Docking, Scoring and Experimental Testing) was developed to discover inhibitors that target the IC loops of activated GPCRs. As proof-of-concept, MEDSET developed and utilized a model of the interface between photoactivated rhodopsin (R*) and transducin (Gt), its G-protein. A National Cancer Institute (NCI) compound library was screened to identify compounds that bound at the interface between R* and its G-protein. High-scoring compounds from this virtual screen were obtained and tested experimentally for their ability to stabilize R* and prevent Gt from binding to R*. Several compounds that modulate signal transduction have been identified.
PMCID: PMC2664537  PMID: 18707087
Methods in cell biology  2013;117:141-164.
A large body of evidence indicates that G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) and Receptor tyrosine kinases (RTKs) can form heteroreceptor complexes. In these complexes, the signalling from each interacting protomer is modulated to produce an integrated and therefore novel response upon agonist(s) activation. In the GPCR-RTK heteroreceptor complexes, GPCRs can activate RTK in the absence of added growth factor through the use of RTK signalling molecules. This integrative phenomenon is reciprocal, and can place also RTK signalling downstream of GPCR. Formation of either stable or transient complexes by these two important classes of membrane receptors is involved in regulating all aspects of receptor function, from ligand binding to signal transduction, trafficking, desensitization and down regulation among others. Functional phenomena can be modulated with conformation-specific inhibitors that stabilize defined GPCR states to abrogate both GPCR agonist- and growth factor-stimulated cell responses or by means of small interfering heteroreceptor complex interface peptides. The bioluminescence resonance energy transfer (BRET) technology has emerged as a powerful method to study the structure of heteroreceptor complexes closely associated with the study of receptor-receptor interactions in such complexes. In this work we provide an overview of different BRET2 assays that can be used to study the structure of GPCR-RTK heteroreceptor complexes and their functions. Various experimental designs for optimization of these experiments are also described.
PMCID: PMC3921556  PMID: 24143976
G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs); Receptor tyrosine kinases (RTK); heteroreceptor complexes; bioluminescence resonance energy transfer (BRET); GPCR-RTK heteroreceptor complexes; receptor-receptor interactions; allosteric modulation; homodimerization; heterodimerization; BRET saturation assays; BRET competition assays; BRET kinetics and dose-response assays
24.  G Protein–Coupled Receptor Sorting to Endosomes and Lysosomes 
The heptahelical G protein–coupled receptors (GPCRs) belong to the largest family of cell surface signaling receptors encoded in the human genome. GPCRs signal to diverse extracellular stimuli and control a vast number of physiological responses, making this receptor class the target of nearly half the drugs currently in use. In addition to rapid desensitization, receptor trafficking is crucial for the temporal and spatial control of GPCR signaling. Sorting signals present in the intracytosolic domains of GPCRs regulate trafficking through the endosomal-lysosomal system. GPCR internalization is mediated by serine and threonine phosphorylation and arrestin binding. Short, linear peptide sequences including tyrosine- and dileucine-based motifs, and PDZ ligands that are recognized by distinct endocytic adaptor proteins also mediate internalization and endosomal sorting of GPCRs. We present new data from bioinformatic searches that reveal the presence of these types of sorting signals in the cytoplasmic tails of many known GPCRs. Several recent studies also indicate that the covalent modification of GPCRs with ubiquitin serves as a signal for internalization and lysosomal sorting, expanding the diversity of mechanisms that control trafficking of mammalian GPCRs.
PMCID: PMC2869288  PMID: 17995450
GPCR; arrestin; ubiquitin; trafficking; clathrin; PDZ; bioinformatic
25.  S-Nitrosylation-Regulated GPCR Signaling 
Biochimica et Biophysica Acta  2011;1820(6):743-751.
G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) are the most numerous and diverse type of cell surface receptors, accounting for about 1% of the entire human genome and relaying signals from a variety of extracellular stimuli that range from lipid and peptide growth factors to ions and sensory inputs. Activated GPCRs regulate a multitude of target cell functions, including intermediary metabolism, growth and differentiation, and migration and invasion. The GPCRs contain a characteristic 7-transmembrane domain topology and their activation promotes complex formation with a variety of intracellular partner proteins, which form basis for initiation of distinct signaling networks as well as dictate fate of the receptor itself. Both termination of active GPCR signaling and removal from the plasma membrane are controlled by protein post-translational modifications of the receptor itself and its interacting partners. Phosphorylation, acylation and ubiquitination are the most studied post-translational modifications involved in GPCR signal transduction, subcellular trafficking and overall expression. Emerging evidence demonstrates that protein S-nitrosylation, the covalent attachment of a nitric oxide moiety to specified cysteine thiol groups, of GPCRs and/or their associated effectors also participates in the fine-tuning of receptor signaling and expression. This newly appreciated mode of GPCR system modification adds another set of controls to more precisely regulate the many cellular functions elicited by this large group of receptors.
PMCID: PMC3131494  PMID: 21397660
GPCR; G protein; GRK; beta-arrestin; dynamin; S-nitrosylation

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