A Conserved Asn in Transmembrane Helix 7 Is an On/Off Switch in the Activation of the Thyrotropin Receptor

Cédric Govaerts, Anne Lefort, Sabine Costagliola, Shoshana J. Wodak, Juan A. Ballesteros, Jacqueline Van Sande, Leonardo Pardo, Gilbert Vassart

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

96 Citations (Scopus)


The thyrotropin (TSH) receptor is an interesting model to study G protein-coupled receptor activation as many point mutations can significantly increase its basal activity. Here, we identified a molecular interaction between Asp633 in transmembrane helix 6 (TM6) and Asn674 in TM7 of the TSHr that is crucial to maintain the inactive state through conformational constraint of the Asn. We show that these residues are perfectly conserved in the glycohormone receptor family, except in one case, where they are exchanged, suggesting a direct interaction. Molecular modeling of the TSHr, based on the high resolution structure of rhodopsin, strongly favors this hypothesis. Our approach combining site-directed mutagenesis with molecular modeling shows that mutations disrupting this interaction, like the D633A mutation in TM6, lead to high constitutive activation. The strongly activating N674D (TM7) mutation, which in our modeling breaks the TM6-TM7 link, is reverted to wild type-like behavior by an additional D633N mutation (TM6), which would restore this link. Moreover, we show that the Asn of TM7 (conserved in most G protein-coupled receptors) is mandatory for ligand-induced cAMP accumulation, suggesting an active role of this residue in activation. In the TSHr, the conformation of this Asn residue of TM7 would be constrained, in the inactive state, by its Asp partner in TM6.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)22991-22999
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Publication statusPublished - 22 Jun 2001


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