Based on the identification of residues that determine receptor selectivity in arrestins and the phylogenetic analysis of the arrestin (arr) family, we introduced fifteen mutations of receptor-discriminator residues in arr-3, which were identified previously using mutagenesis, in vitro binding, and BRET-based recruitment assay in intact cells. The effects of these mutations were tested using neuropeptide Y receptors Y1R and Y2R. NPY-elicited arr-3 recruitment to Y1R was not affected by these mutations, or even alanine substitution of all ten residues (arr-3-NCA), which prevented arr-3 binding to other receptors tested so far. However, NCA and two other mutations prevented agonist-independent arr-3 pre-docking to Y1R. In contrast, eight out of 15 mutations significantly reduced agonist-dependent arr-3 recruitment to Y2R. NCA eliminated arr-3 binding to active Y2R, whereas Tyr239Thr reduced it ~7-fold. Thus, manipulation of key residues on the receptor-binding surface generates arr-3 with high preference for Y1R over Y2R. Several mutations differentially affect arr-3 pre-docking and agonist-induced recruitment. Thus, arr-3 recruitment to the receptor involves several mechanistically distinct steps. Targeted mutagenesis can fine-tune arrestins directing them to specific receptors and particular activation states of the same receptor.
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