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1.  Membrane Cholesterol Affects Stimulus-Activity Coupling in Type 1, but not Type 2, CCK Receptors: Use of Cell Lines with Elevated Cholesterol 
Lipids  2013;48(3):231-244.
The lipid microenvironment of membrane proteins can affect their structure, function, and regulation. We recently described differential effects of acute modification of membrane cholesterol on the function of type 1 and 2 cholecystokinin (CCK) receptors. We now explore the regulatory impact of chronic cholesterol modification on these receptors using novel receptor-bearing cell lines with elevated membrane cholesterol. Stable CCK1R and CCK2R expression was established in clonal lines of 25RA cells having gain-of-function in SCAP [sterol regulatory element binding protein (SREBP) cleavage-activating protein] and SRD15 cells having deficiencies in Insig-1 and Insig-2 enzymes affecting HMG CoA reductase and SREBP. Increased cholesterol in the plasma membrane of these cells was directly demonstrated, and receptor binding and signaling characteristics were shown to reflect predicted effects on receptor function. In both environments, both types of CCK receptors were internalized and recycled normally in response to agonist occupation. No differences in receptor distribution within the membrane were appreciated at the light microscopic level in these CHO-derived cell lines. Fluorescence anisotropy was studied for these receptors occupied by fluorescent agonist and antagonist, as well as when tagged with YFP. These studies demonstrated increased anisotropy of the agonist ligand occupying the active state of the CCK1R in a cholesterol-enriched environment, mimicking fluorescence of the uncoupled, inactive state of this receptor, while there was no effect of increasing cholesterol on fluorescence at the CCK2R. These cell lines should be quite useful for examining the functional characteristics of potential drugs that might be used in an abnormal lipid environment.
PMCID: PMC3587353  PMID: 23306829
Cholecystokinin; G protein-coupled receptors; Receptor internalization; Receptor recycling; Receptor regulation
2.  Pattern of Intra-Family Hetero-Oligomerization Involving the G-Protein-Coupled Secretin Receptor 
Journal of molecular neuroscience : MN  2008;36(0):10.1007/s12031-008-9060-z.
Oligomerization of G-protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) is emerging as a mechanism for regulation and functional modification, although it has been studied most extensively for Family A receptors. Family B receptors have clear structural differences from Family A. In this paper, we have systematically evaluated GPCRs that are capable of association with the prototypic Family B secretin receptor. All of the receptor constructs were shown to traffic normally to the plasma membrane. We utilized receptor bioluminescence resonance energy transfer (BRET) to determine the presence of constitutive and ligand-dependent receptor association. Extensive intra-family and no cross-family association was observed. Of the nine Family B receptors studied, all constitutively yielded a significant BRET signal with the secretin receptor, except for the calcitonin receptor. Each of the associating hetero-oligomeric receptor pairs generated a BRET signal of similar intensity, less than that of homo-oligomeric secretin receptors. BRET signals from some receptor pairs were reduced by ligand occupation, but none were increased by this treatment. Thus, Family B GPCR oligomerization occurs, with many structurally related members associating with each other. The specific functional implications of this need to be further evaluated.
PMCID: PMC3880023  PMID: 18401761
G-protein-coupled receptors; Heteroligomerization; Secretin receptor; Bioluminescence resonance energy transfer; Fluorescence resonance energy transfer; Surface expression
3.  Use of Multidimensional Fluorescence Resonance Energy Transfer To Establish the Orientation of Cholecystokinin Docked at the Type A Cholecystokinin Receptor† 
Biochemistry  2008;47(36):9574-9581.
Fluorescence resonance energy transfer (FRET) represents a powerful tool to establish relative distances between donor and acceptor fluorophores. By utilizing several donors situated in distinct positions within a docked full agonist ligand and several acceptors distributed at distinct sites within its receptor, multiple interdependent dimensions can be determined. These can provide a unique method to establish or confirm three-dimensional structure of the molecular complex. In this work, we have utilized full agonist analogues of cholecystokinin (CCK) with Aladan distributed throughout the pharmacophore in positions 24, 29, and 33, along with receptor constructs derivatized with Alexa546 at positions 94, 102, 204, and 341 in the helical bundle and first, second, and third extracellular loops, respectively. These provided 12 FRET distances to overlay on working models of the CCK-occupied receptor. These established that the carboxyl terminus of CCK resides at the external surface of the lipid bilayer, adjacent to the receptor amino-terminal tail, rather than being inserted into the helical bundle. They also provide important experimentally derived constraints for understanding spatial relationships between the docked ligand and the flexible extracellular loop regions. Multidimensional FRET provides a new independent method to establish and refine structural insights into ligand–receptor complexes.
PMCID: PMC3648886  PMID: 18700727
4.  Modulation of Cell Surface Expression of Nonactivated Cholecystokinin Receptors Using Bivalent Ligand-Induced Internalization 
Journal of medicinal chemistry  2010;53(7):2836-2842.
CCK2 receptor antagonists potentiate pain relief by MOP receptor agonists. In an attempt to enhance this effect, we prepared bivalent ligands incorporating CCK2 receptor antagonist and MOP receptor agonist pharmacophores.9 Ligands with 16- to 22-atom spacers could simultaneously bind both receptors but provided no advantage in activity over individual ligands. We now examine the effect of these ligands on receptor internalization as a mechanism of receptor regulation. We prepared CHO cell lines expressing nonfluorescent halves (YN and YC) of yellow fluorescent protein attached to each receptor. Spatial approximation of constructs was needed to yield fluorescence. Monovalent MOP agonist 1 signaled normally and internalized the MOP receptor. Monovalent CCK2 antagonist 2 did not stimulate receptor internalization. In the dual receptor-bearing cells, bivalent ligands 3a–c capable of simultaneously binding both receptors resulted in cell surface fluorescence and internalization of the fluorescent complex in a time- and temperature-dependent manner. Bivalent ligand 4 with spacer too short to occupy both receptors simultaneously yielded no signal. Receptor tethering with appropriate bivalent ligands can down-regulate signaling by moving a nonactivated receptor into the endocytic pathway.
PMCID: PMC3593351  PMID: 20235611
5.  Monitoring the State of Cholecystokinin Receptor Oligomerization after Ligand Binding Using Decay of Time-Resolved Fluorescence Anisotropy 
Oligomeric complexes of G protein–coupled receptors (GPCRs) are now commonly recognized and can provide a mechanism for regulation of signaling systems. Receptor oligomerization has been most extensively studied using coimmunoprecipitation and bioluminescence or fluorescence resonance energy-transfer techniques. Here, we have utilized decay of time-resolved fluorescence anisotropy of yellow fluorescent protein-labeled cholecystokinin receptor constructs to examine the state of oligomerization of this receptor in living cells. The rotational correlation times established that the cholecystokinin receptor is constitutively present in an oligomeric state that is dissociated in response to agonist occupation. In contrast, antagonist occupation failed to modify this signal, leaving the oligomeric structure intact. This dynamic technique complements the other biochemical and steady-state fluorescence techniques to establish the presence of oligomeric receptor complexes in living cells.
PMCID: PMC3580951  PMID: 19076359
G protein–coupled receptors; cholecystokinin receptor; receptor oligomerization; time-resolved anisotropy; rotational dynamics
6.  Fluorescence Polarization Screening for Allosteric Small Molecule Ligands of the Cholecystokinin Receptor 
The success in screening for drug candidates is highly dependent on the power of the strategy implemented. In this work, we report and characterize a novel fluorescent benzodiazepine antagonist of the type 1 cholecystokinin receptor (3-(3-(7-fluoro-1-(2-isopropyl(4-methoxyphenyl)amino)-2-oxoethyl)-2,4-dioxo-5-phenyl-2,3,4,5-tetrahydro-1H-benzo[b][1,4]-diazepin-3-yl)ureido)benzoic acid) that can be used as a receptor ligand in a fluorescence polarization assay, which is ideally suited for the identification of small molecule allosteric modulators of this physiologically important receptor. By binding directly to the small molecule-docking region within the helical bundle of this receptor, this indicator can be displaced by many small molecule candidate drugs, even those that might not affect the binding of an orthosteric cholecystokinin-like peptide ligand. The biological, pharmacological, and fluorescence properties of this reagent are described, and proof-of-concept is provided in a fluorescence polarization assay utilizing this fluorescent benzodiazepine ligand.
PMCID: PMC3148107  PMID: 21395402
7.  Modulation of β-Catenin Signaling by Glucagon Receptor Activation 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(3):e33676.
The glucagon receptor (GCGR) is a member of the class B G protein–coupled receptor family. Activation of GCGR by glucagon leads to increased glucose production by the liver. Thus, glucagon is a key component of glucose homeostasis by counteracting the effect of insulin. In this report, we found that in addition to activation of the classic cAMP/protein kinase A (PKA) pathway, activation of GCGR also induced β-catenin stabilization and activated β-catenin–mediated transcription. Activation of β-catenin signaling was PKA-dependent, consistent with previous reports on the parathyroid hormone receptor type 1 (PTH1R) and glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP-1R) receptors. Since low-density-lipoprotein receptor–related protein 5 (Lrp5) is an essential co-receptor required for Wnt protein mediated β-catenin signaling, we examined the role of Lrp5 in glucagon-induced β-catenin signaling. Cotransfection with Lrp5 enhanced the glucagon-induced β-catenin stabilization and TCF promoter–mediated transcription. Inhibiting Lrp5/6 function using Dickkopf-1(DKK1) or by expression of the Lrp5 extracellular domain blocked glucagon-induced β-catenin signaling. Furthermore, we showed that Lrp5 physically interacted with GCGR by immunoprecipitation and bioluminescence resonance energy transfer assays. Together, these results reveal an unexpected crosstalk between glucagon and β-catenin signaling, and may help to explain the metabolic phenotypes of Lrp5/6 mutations.
PMCID: PMC3306284  PMID: 22438981
8.  Importance of lipid-exposed residues in transmembrane segment four for family B calcitonin receptor homo-dimerization 
Regulatory peptides  2010;164(2-3):113-119.
Dimerization of the prototypic family B G protein-coupled secretin receptor is determined by the lipid-exposed face of transmembrane segment four (TM4), and has substantial functional importance, facilitating G protein coupling. Recently, we demonstrated that the human secretin receptor elicits an inter-receptor bioluminescence resonance energy transfer (BRET) signal with most other human family B peptide receptors, except for the calcitonin receptor. In this study we have explored the occurrence and importance of calcitonin receptor oligomerization. Static and saturation receptor BRET were utilized to demonstrate that, unlike the human calcitonin receptor that does not yield a significant homomeric BRET signal, the rabbit calcitonin receptor exhibits strong resonance energy transfer. Within the lipid-exposed face of TM4, rabbit and human calcitonin receptors differ by a single amino acid (Arg236 in human; His in rabbit), while Thr253 that occurs in human and rabbit calcitonin receptors is unique across family B receptors. Mutating Arg236 or Thr253 of the human calcitonin receptor to residues found in the rabbit calcitonin receptor or the human secretin receptor (R236H, R236Y and T253A) resulted in generation of significant BRET signals. Similarly, mutation of Val250 of the human calcitonin receptor to another key lipid-facing residue found in the secretin receptor (V250I) also increased the receptor BRET signal. These data support the consistent theme of lipid-exposed residues of TM4 being important for the dimerization of the calcitonin receptor. However, rabbit and human calcitonin receptor constructs bound calcitonin and stimulated cAMP similarly, suggesting that differences in BRET could reflect differences in orientation or in the stability of homo-dimeric receptor complexes, which were nevertheless similarly effective in eliciting the functions attributed to that complex. The likelihood of human calcitonin receptor dimerization, even in the absence of a significant BRET signal, was further supported by data demonstrating that the peptide representing TM4 of this receptor that disrupts the rabbit receptor BRET signal, produced a right shift in the cAMP concentration-response curves for both rabbit and human receptors.
PMCID: PMC2926129  PMID: 20541569
Biochemistry  2009;48(49):11773-11785.
The three receptor activity-modifying proteins (RAMPs) have been recognized as being important for the trafficking and function of a subset of family B G protein-coupled receptors, although the structural basis for this has not been well established. In the current work, we use morphological fluorescence techniques, bioluminescence resonance energy transfer, and bimolecular fluorescence complementation to demonstrate that the secretin receptor associates specifically with RAMP3, but not with RAMP1 or RAMP2. We use truncation constructs, peptide competition experiments, and chimeric secretin-GLP1 receptor constructs to establish that this association is structurally-specific, dependent on the intramembranous region of the RAMP and TM6 and TM7 of this receptor. There were no observed changes in secretin-stimulated cAMP, intracellular calcium, ERK1/2 phosphorylation, or receptor internalization in receptor-bearing COS or CHO-K1 cells in the presence or absence of exogenous RAMP transfection, although the secretin receptor trafficks normally to the cell surface in these cells in a RAMP-independent manner, resulting in both free and RAMP-associated receptor on the cell surface. RAMP3 association with this receptor was shown to be capable of rescuing a receptor mutant (G241C) that is normally trapped intracellularly in the biosynthetic machinery. Similarly, secretin receptor expression had functional effects on adrenomedullin activity, with increasing secretin receptor expression competing for RAMP3 association with the calcitonin receptor-like receptor to yield a functional adrenomedullin receptor. These data provide important new insights into the structural basis for RAMP3 interaction with a family B G protein-coupled receptor, potentially providing a highly selective target for drug action. This may be representative of similar interactions between other members of this receptor family and RAMP proteins.
PMCID: PMC2790544  PMID: 19886671
10.  Induced association of mu opioid (MOP) and type 2 cholecystokinin (CCK2) receptors by novel bivalent ligands 
Journal of medicinal chemistry  2009;52(2):247-258.
Both mu opioid (MOP)† and type 2 cholecystokinin (CCK2) receptors are present in areas of the central nervous system that are involved in modulation of pain processing. We conducted bioluminescence resonance energy transfer (BRET) studies on COS cells coexpressing MOP and CCK2 receptors to determine whether receptor heterodimerization is involved in such modulation. These studies revealed the absence of constitutive or monovalent ligand-induced heterodimerization. Heterodimerization of MOP and CCK2 receptors therefore is unlikely to be responsible for the opposing effects between morphine and CCK in the CNS. However, association was induced, as indicated by a positive BRET signal, on exposure of the cells to bivalent ligands containing mu-opioid agonist and CCK2 receptor antagonist pharmacophores linked through spacers containing 16 to 22 atoms, but not with a shorter (9-atom) spacer. These studies demonstrate for the first time that an appropriately designed bivalent ligand is capable of inducing association of G protein-coupled receptors. The finding that opioid tolerance studies with these ligands in mice showed no correlation with the BRET data is consistent with the absence of association of MOP and CCK2 receptors in vivo.
PMCID: PMC2650857  PMID: 19113864
11.  Dimerization in the Absence of Higher Order Oligomerization of the G Protein-Coupled Secretin Receptor# 
Biochimica et biophysica acta  2008;1778(11):2555-2563.
Oligomerization of G protein-coupled receptors has been proposed to affect receptor function and regulation; however, little is known about the molecular nature of such complexes. We previously utilized bioluminescence resonance energy transfer (BRET) to demonstrate that the prototypic Family B secretin receptor can form oligomers. We now explore the order of oligomerization present utilizing unique bimolecular fluorescence complementation and energy transfer techniques. The non-fluorescent carboxyl-terminal and amino-terminal halves of yellow fluorescent protein (YFP) were fused to the carboxyl terminus of the secretin receptor. These constructs bound secretin normally and signaled in response to secretin like wild type receptor. When co-expressed on COS cells, these constructs physically interacted to yield typical YFP fluorescence in biosynthetic compartments and at the plasma membrane, reflecting receptor homo-dimerization. However, the addition of another potential partner in form of Rlu- or CFP-tagged secretin receptor yielded no significant BRET or FRET signal, respectively, under conditions in which intact YFP-tagged secretin receptor yielded such a signal. Absence of higher order receptor oligomers was further confirmed using saturation BRET techniques. Absence of significant resonance transfer to the secretin receptor homo-dimer was true for carboxyl-terminally-tagged secretin receptor, as well as for receptor incorporating the transfer partner into each of the three distinct intracellular loop domains. These results suggest that the secretin receptor can exist only as a structurally-specific homo-dimer, without being present as higher order oligomers.
PMCID: PMC2676241  PMID: 18680717
Bimolecular fluorescence complementation; bioluminescence resonance energy transfer; fluorescence resonance energy transfer; G protein-coupled receptor; receptor oligomerization; secretin receptor
Biochemistry  2006;45(49):14706-14716.
Oligomerization of the G protein-coupled cholecystokinin (CCK) receptor has been demonstrated, but its molecular basis and functional importance are not clear. We now examine contributions of transmembrane (TM) segments to oligomerization of this receptor using a peptide competitive inhibition strategy. Oligomerization of CCK receptors tagged at the carboxyl terminus with Renilla luciferase or yellow fluorescent protein was quantified using bioluminescence resonance energy transfer (BRET). Synthetic peptides representing TM I, II, V, VI and VII of the CCK receptor were utilized as competitors. Of these, only TM VI and VII peptides disrupted receptor BRET. Control studies established that the β2–adrenergic receptor TM VI peptide that disrupts oligomerization of that receptor had no effect on CCK receptor BRET. Notably, disruption of CCK receptor oligomerization had no effect on agonist binding, biological activity, or receptor internalization. To gain insight into the face of TM VI contributing to oligomerization, we utilized analogous peptides with alanines in positions 315, 319, and 323 (interhelical face) or 317, 321, and 325 (external lipid-exposed face). The Ala317,321,325 peptide eliminated the disruptive effect on CCK receptor BRET, while the other mutant peptide behaved like wild type TM VI. This suggests that the lipid-exposed face of CCK receptor TM VI most contributes to oligomerization, and supports external contact dimerization of helical bundles, rather than domain-swapped dimerization. Fluorescent CCK receptor mutants having residues 317, 321, and 325 replaced with alanines were also prepared, and failed to yield significant resonance transfer signals using either BRET or a morphological FRET assay, further supporting this interpretation.
PMCID: PMC2585497  PMID: 17144663
Bioluminescence resonance energy transfer; fluorescence resonance energy transfer; cholecystokinin receptor; G protein-coupled receptor; receptor internalization; receptor oligomerization

Results 1-12 (12)