The molecular mechanisms of interaction between G(s) and the A(2A) adenosine receptor were investigated using synthetic peptides corresponding to various segments of the Galpha(s) carboxyl terminus. Synthetic peptides were tested for their ability to modulate binding of a selective radiolabeled agonist, [(3)H]2-[4-(2-carboxyethyl)phenylethylamino]-5'-N-ethylcarboxam idoade nosine ([(3)H]CGS21680), to A(2A) adenosine receptors in rat striatal membranes. The Galpha(s) peptides stimulated specific binding both in the presence and absence of 100 microM guanosine-5'-O-(3-thiotriphosphate) (GTPgammaS). Three peptides, Galpha(s)(378-394)C(379)A, Galpha(s)(376-394)C(379)A, and Galpha(s)(374-394)C(379)A, were the most effective. In the presence of GTPgammaS, peptide Galpha(s)(374-394)C(379)A increased specific binding in a dose-dependent fashion. However, the peptide did not stabilize the high-affinity state of the A(2A) adenosine receptor for [(3)H]CGS21680. Binding assays with a radiolabeled selective antagonist, [(3)H]5-amino-7-(2-phenylethyl)-2-(2-furyl)pyrazolo[4, 3-e]-1,2,4-triazolo[1,5-c]pyrimidine ([(3)H]SCH58261), showed that the addition of the Galpha(s) peptide modified the slope of the 5'-N-ethylcarboxamidoadenosine (NECA) competition curve, suggesting modulation of receptor affinity states. In the presence of GTPgammaS, the displacement curve was right-shifted, whereas the addition of Galpha(s)(374-394)C(379)A caused a partial left-shift. Both curves were fitted by one-site models. This same Galpha(s) peptide was also able to disrupt G(s)-coupled signal transduction as indicated by inhibition of the A(2A) receptor-stimulated adenylyl cyclase activity without affecting either basal or forskolin-stimulated enzymatic activity in the same membrane preparations. Shorter peptides from Galpha(s) and Galpha(i1/2) carboxyl termini were not effective. NMR spectroscopy showed the strong propensity of peptide Galpha(s)(374-394)C(379)A to assume a compact carboxyl-terminal alpha-helical conformation in solution. Overall, our results point out the conformation requirement of Galpha(s) carboxyl-terminal peptides to modulate agonist binding to rat A(2A) adenosine receptors and disrupt signal transduction.