GPCR signaling complexes in living cells

Project: Research project

Project Details


DESCRIPTION (provided by applicant): G-protein coupled receptors (GPCRs) are, as a class, the most common target of clinically used drugs. The standard model of GPCR function holds that receptors, G-proteins and effector molecules interact with each other sequentially and transiently (by collision coupling), allowing each receptor to activate several G-protein molecules, and each G-protein subunit to activate several effector molecules. Recent work has, however, cast doubt on the generality of collision coupling. Instead, it has been suggested that GPCR signaling molecules can be precoupled in "signalosome" complexes that remain intact during signaling. Preassembly of complexes could facilitate rapid signaling and provide the receptor-effector specificity necessary for normal cell function. The long term objective of this research is to understand the spatial arrangement and temporal dynamics of signaling molecules in living cells. Accordingly, the goal of this project is to determine if GPCR signaling is mediated by collision coupling, by stable complexes of signaling molecules, or by a combination of these mechanisms. We have developed a simple technique to detect interactions between membrane proteins and to quantify the stability of such interactions in live cells. This technique measures changes in the lateral mobility of a membrane protein when a potential interacting partner is experimentally immobilized. Transmembrane proteins (e.g. GPCRs and ion channels) are immobilized in intact cells, and the lateral mobility of potentially interacting proteins is measured by monitoring fluorescence recovery after photobleaching. We will use this method together with standard electrophysiological techniques to test specific hypotheses about GPCR signaling complexes. The specific aims are (i) to test the hypothesis that inactive GPCRs and G-protein heterotrimers form specific complexes that facilitate signaling; (2) to test the hypothesis that G-protein heterotrimers form complexes with inwardly-rectifying potassium (GIRK) channels; (3) to test the hypothesis that RGS proteins accelerate signal onset by forming stable complexes with GPCRs and/or G-protein heterotrimers; and (4) to determine if G-proteins dissociate into component Get and Gbg subunits during signaling. Currently available drugs act at the first step of GPCR signaling, namely binding of the drug (or a blocker) to the receptor. It is anticipated that future therapeutic drugs will target the subsequent steps of signaling. Development of such drugs will require a detailed understanding of these steps, e.g. when and where receptors, G-proteins and effector molecules interact with each other to transmit signals. The goal of this project is to provide this information. [unreadable]
Effective start/end date9/25/0712/31/17


  • Medicine(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)