Construction of Structural Mimetics of the Thyrotropin Receptor Intracellular Domain

Press O, Zvagelsky T, Vyazmensky M, Kleinau G, Engel S

Biophysical Journal
2016 vol: 111 (12) pp: 2620-2628

Abstract

The signaling of a G protein-coupled receptor (GPCR) is dictated by the complementary responsiveness of interacting intracellular effectors such as G proteins. Many GPCRs are known to couple to more than one G protein subtype and induce a multitude of signaling pathways, although the in vivo relevance of particular pathways is mostly unrecognized. Dissecting GPCR signaling in terms of the pathways that are activated will boost our understanding of the molecular fundamentals of hormone action. The structural determinants governing the selectivity of GPCR/G protein coupling, however, remain obscure. Here, we describe the design of soluble GPCR mimetics to study the details of the interplay between G-proteins and activators. We constructed functional mimetics of the intracellular domain of a model GPCR, the thyrotropin receptor. We based the construction on a unique scaffold, 6-Helix, an artificial protein that was derived from the elements of the trimer-of-hairpins structure of HIV gp41 and represents a bundle of six α-helices. The 6-Helix scaffold, which endowed the substituted thyrotropin receptor intracellular domain elements with spatial constraints analogous to those found in native receptors, enabled the reconstitution of a microdomain that consists of intracellular loops 2 and 3, and is capable of binding and activating Gα-(s). The 6-Helix-based mimetics could be used as a platform to study the molecular basis of GPCR/G protein recognition. Such knowledge could help investigators develop novel therapeutic strategies for GPCR-related disorders by targeting the GPCR/G protein interfaces and counteracting cellular dysfunctions via focused tuning of GPCR signaling.

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