An activation switch in the rhodopsin family of G protein-coupled receptors: The thyrotropin receptor

Eneko Urizar, Sylvie Claeysen, Xavier Deupí, Cedric Govaerts, Sabine Costagliola, Gilbert Vassart, Leonardo Pardo

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103 Citations (Scopus)


We aimed at understanding molecular events involved in the activation of a member of the G protein-coupled receptor family, the thyrotropin receptor. We have focused on the transmembrane region and in particular on a network of polar interactions between highly conserved residues. Using molecular dynamics simulations and site-directed mutagenesis techniques we have identified residue Asn-7.49, of the NPxxY motif of TM 7, as a molecular switch in the mechanism of thyrotropin receptor (TSHr) activation. Asn-7.49 appears to adopt two different conformations in the inactive and active states. These two states are characterized by specific interactions between this Asn and polar residues in the transmembrane domain. The inactive gauche+ conformation is maintained by interactions with residues Thr-6.43 and Asp-6.44. Mutation of these residues into Ala increases the constitutive activity of the receptor by factors of -14 and -10 relative to wild type TSHr, respectively. Upon receptor activation Asn-7.49 adopts the trans conformation to interact with Asp-2.50 and a putatively charged residue that remains to be identified. In addition, the conserved Leu-2.46 of the (N/S)LxxxD motif also plays a significant role in restraining the receptor in the inactive state because the L2.46A mutation increases constitutive activity by a factor of ∼13 relative to wild type TSHr. As residues Leu-2.46, Asp-2.50, and Asn-7.49 are strongly conserved, this molecular mechanism of TSHr activation can be extended to other members of the rhodopsin-like family of G protein-coupled receptors. © 2005 by The American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Inc.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)17135-17141
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Publication statusPublished - 29 Apr 2005


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