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G protein-Coupled Receptors (GPCRs) use a complex series of intramolecular conformational changes to couple agonist binding to the binding and activation of cognate heterotrimeric G protein (Gαβγ). The mechanisms underlying this long-range activation have been identified using a variety of biochemical and structural approaches and have primarily used visual signal transduction via the GPCR rhodopsin and cognate heterotrimeric G protein transducin (G(t)) as a model system. In this chapter, we review the methods that have revealed allosteric signaling through rhodopsin and transducin. These methods can be applied to a variety of GPCR-mediated signaling pathways.
OBJECTIVES - Cardiovascular responses to stressors are regulated by sympathetic activity, increased in black Americans, and associated with future cardiovascular morbidity. Our aim was to determine whether two functional variants in genes regulating sympathetic activity, a deletion in the alpha2C-adrenergic receptor (ADRA2C del322-325) and a G-protein beta3-subunit variant (GNB3 G825T), affect cardiovascular responses to physiologic stressors and contribute to their ethnic differences.
METHODS - We measured heart rate and blood pressure responses to a cold pressor test (CPT) in 79 healthy participants (40 blacks, 39 whites), aged 25.7+/-5.3 years, and determined genotypes for the ADRA2C and GNB3 variants. We examined the response variables (increase in heart rate and blood pressure) in multiple linear regression analyses adjusting first for baseline measures, ethnicity, and other covariates, and then additionally for genotypes.
RESULTS - Black participants had a greater heart rate response to CPT than whites [mean difference, 9.9 bpm; 95% confidence interval (CI), 4.1 to 15.6; P=0.001]. Both the ADRA2C del/del (15.8 bpm; 95% CI, 8.0-23.7; P<0.001) and GNB3 T/T genotypes (6.8 bpm; 95% CI, 0.9-12.7; P=0.026) were associated with greater heart rate response. After adjusting for genotypes, the ethnic difference was abrogated (1.3 bpm; 95% CI, -5.4-8.0; P=0.70), suggesting that the genetic variants contributed substantially to ethnic differences.
CONCLUSION - Variation in genes that regulate sympathetic activity affects hemodynamic stress responses and contributes to their ethnic differences. This study elucidates how genetic factors may in part explain ethnic differences in cardiovascular regulation.
The alpha(2)-adrenoceptor agonist clonidine reduces blood pressure more effectively in White than Black Americans despite similar degrees of sympatholysis. Functional genetic variation in receptor signaling mechanisms, for example in the beta 3 G-protein subunit (GNB3 C825T) and in the alpha(2C)-adrenoceptor subtype (ADRA2C del322-325), may affect drug responses. We examined the hypothesis that there are ethnic differences in the responses to the highly selective alpha(2)-agonist, dexmedetomidine, and that these genetic variants contribute to interindividual variability in drug responses. In a placebo-controlled, single-masked study, 73 healthy subjects (37 whites and 36 blacks) received 3 placebo infusions and then 3 incremental doses of dexmedetomidine (cumulative dose, 0.4 microg/kg), each separated by 30 minutes. Blood pressure, heart rate, and plasma catecholamine concentrations were determined after each infusion. We measured dexmedetomidine concentrations after the last infusion and determined ADRA2C del322-325 and GNB3 C825T genotypes. Dexmedetomidine lowered blood pressure and plasma catecholamine concentrations significantly (all P<0.001). There was substantial interindividual variability in the reduction of systolic blood pressure (range, 1 to 34 mm Hg) and plasma norepinephrine concentrations (range, 24 to 424 pg/mL). However, there were no differences between black and white subjects in dexmedetomidine responses (P>0.16 for all outcomes) before or after adjustment for covariates. Neither ADRA2C del322-325 nor GNB3 C825T genotypes affected the responses to dexmedetomidine (all P>0.66). There is large interindividual variability in response to the selective alpha(2)-AR agonist dexmedetomidine, and neither ethnicity nor ADRA2C and GNB3 genotypes contribute to it. Further studies to identify determinants of alpha(2)-AR-mediated responses will be of interest.
Heterotrimeric G proteins have a crucial role as molecular switches in signal transduction pathways mediated by G-protein-coupled receptors. Extracellular stimuli activate these receptors, which then catalyse GTP-GDP exchange on the G protein alpha-subunit. The complex series of interactions and conformational changes that connect agonist binding to G protein activation raise various interesting questions about the structure, biomechanics, kinetics and specificity of signal transduction across the plasma membrane.
Heterotrimeric G proteins couple the activation of heptahelical receptors at the cell surface to the intracellular signaling cascades that mediate the physiological responses to extracellular stimuli. G proteins are molecular switches that are activated by receptor-catalyzed GTP for GDP exchange on the G protein alpha subunit, which is the rate-limiting step in the activation of all downstream signaling. Despite the important biological role of the receptor-G protein interaction, relatively little is known about the structure of the complex and how it leads to nucleotide exchange. This chapter will describe what is known about receptor and G protein structure and outline a strategy for assembling the current data into improved models for the receptor-G protein complex that will hopefully answer the question as to how receptors flip the G protein switch.
Heptahelical receptors activate intracellular signaling pathways by catalyzing GTP for GDP exchange on the heterotrimeric G protein alpha subunit (G alpha). Despite the crucial role of this process in cell signaling, little is known about the mechanism of G protein activation. Here we explore the structural basis for receptor-mediated GDP release using electron paramagnetic resonance spectroscopy. Binding to the activated receptor (R*) causes an apparent rigid-body movement of the alpha5 helix of G alpha that would perturb GDP binding at the beta6-alpha5 loop. This movement was not observed when a flexible loop was inserted between the alpha5 helix and the R*-binding C terminus, which uncouples R* binding from nucleotide exchange, suggesting that this movement is necessary for GDP release. These data provide the first direct observation of R*-mediated conformational changes in G proteins and define the structural basis for GDP release from G alpha.
Phospholipase D-mediated hydrolysis of phosphatidylcholine is stimulated by protein kinase C and the monomeric G proteins Arf, RhoA, Cdc42, and Rac1, resulting in complex regulation of this enzyme. Using purified proteins, we have identified a novel inhibitor of phospholipase D activity, Gbetagamma subunits of heterotrimeric G proteins. G protein-coupled receptor activation alters affinity between Galpha and Gbetagamma subunits, allowing subsequent interaction with distinct effectors. Gbeta1gamma1 inhibited phospholipase D1 and phospholipase D2 activity, and both Gbeta1gamma1 and Gbeta1gamma2 inhibited stimulated phospholipase D1 activity in a dosedependent manner in reconstitution assays. Reconstitution assays suggest this interaction occurs through the amino terminus of phospholipase D, because Gbeta1gamma1 is unable to inhibit an amino-terminally truncated phospholipase D construct, PLD1.d311, which like full-length phospholipase D isoforms, requires phosphatidylinositol-4,5-bisphosphate for activity. Furthermore, a truncated protein consisting of the amino-terminal region of phospholipase D containing the phox/pleckstrin homology domains was found to interact with Gbeta1gamma1, unlike the PLD1.d311 recombinant protein, which lacks this domain. In vivo, expressed recombinant Gbeta1gamma2 was also found to inhibit phospholipase D activity under basal and stimulated conditions in MDA-MB-231 cells, which natively express both phospholipase D1 and phospholipase D2. These data demonstrate that Gbetagamma directly regulates phospholipase D activity in vitro and suggest a novel mechanism to negatively regulate phospholipase D signaling in vivo.
The 5-hydroxytryptamine2A (5-HT2A) receptor is a G(q/11)-coupled serotonin receptor that activates phospholipase C and increases diacylglycerol formation. In this report, we demonstrated that calmodulin (CaM) co-immunoprecipitates with the 5-HT2A receptor in NIH-3T3 fibroblasts in an agonist-dependent manner and that the receptor contains two putative CaM binding regions. The putative CaM binding regions of the 5-HT2A receptor are localized to the second intracellular loop and carboxyl terminus. In an in vitro binding assay peptides encompassing the putative second intracellular loop (i2) and carboxyl-terminal (ct) CaM binding regions bound CaM in a Ca2+-dependent manner. The i2 peptide bound with apparent higher affinity and shifted the mobility of CaM in a nondenaturing gel shift assay. Fluorescence emission spectral analyses of dansyl-CaM showed apparent K(D) values of 65 +/- 30 nM for the i2 peptide and 168 +/- 38 nM for the ct peptide. The ct CaM-binding domain overlaps with a putative protein kinase C (PKC) site, which was readily phosphorylated by PKC in vitro. CaM binding and phosphorylation of the ct peptide were found to be antagonistic, suggesting a putative role for CaM in the regulation of 5-HT2A receptor phosphorylation and desensitization. Finally, we showed that CaM decreases 5-HT2A receptor-mediated [35S]GTPgammaS binding to NIH-3T3 cell membranes, supporting a possible role for CaM in regulating receptor-G protein coupling. These data indicate that the serotonin 5-HT2A receptor contains two high affinity CaM-binding domains that may play important roles in signaling and function.
G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) must constantly compete for interactions with G proteins, kinases, and arrestins. To evaluate the interactions of these proteins with GPCRs in greater detail, we generated a fusion protein between the N-formyl peptide receptor and the G(alpha)(i2) protein. The functional capabilities of this chimeric protein were determined both in vivo, in stably transfected U937 cells, and in vitro, using a novel reconstitution system of solubilized components. The chimeric protein exhibited a cellular ligand binding affinity indistinguishable from that of the wild-type receptor and existed as a complex, when solubilized, containing betagamma subunits, as demonstrated by sucrose density sedimentation. The chimeric protein mobilized intracellular calcium and desensitized normally in response to agonist. Furthermore, the chimeric receptor was internalized and recycled at rates similar to those of the wild-type FPR. Confocal fluorescence microscopy revealed that internalized chimeric receptors, as identified with fluorescent ligand, colocalized with arrestin, as well as G protein, unlike wild-type receptors. Soluble reconstitution experiments demonstrated that the chimeric receptor, even in the phosphorylated state, existed as a high ligand affinity G protein complex, in the absence of exogenous G protein. This interaction was only partially prevented through the addition of arrestins. Furthermore, our results demonstrate that the GTP-bound state of the G protein alpha subunit displays no detectable affinity for the receptor. Together, these results indicate that complex interactions exist between GPCRs, in their unphosphorylated and phosphorylated states, G proteins, and arrestins, which result in the highly regulated control of GPCR function.
Heterotrimeric G proteins transduce signals from activated transmembrane G protein-coupled receptors to appropriate downstream effectors within cells. Signaling specificity is achieved in part by the specific alpha, beta, and gamma subunits that compose a given heterotrimer. Additional structural and functional diversity in these subunits is generated at the level of posttranslational modification, offering alternate regulatory mechanisms for G protein signaling. Presented here is the identification of a variant of the gamma(2) subunit of G protein heterotrimer purified from bovine brain and the demonstration that this RDTASIA gamma(2) variant, containing unique amino acid sequence at its N terminus, is a substrate for ubiquitylation and degradation via the N-end rule pathway. Although N-end-dependent degradation has been shown to have important functions in peptide import, chromosome segregation, angiogenesis, and cardiovascular development, the identification of cellular substrates in mammalian systems has remained elusive. The isolation of RDTASIA gamma(2) from a native tissue represents identification of a mammalian N-end rule substrate from a physiological source, and elucidates a mechanism for the targeting of G protein gamma subunits for ubiquitylation and degradation.