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J Biol Chem. 2000 Jul 28;275(30):23059-64.

A four amino acid deletion polymorphism in the third intracellular loop of the human alpha 2C-adrenergic receptor confers impaired coupling to multiple effectors.

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  • 1Departments of Medicine and Molecular Genetics, University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, Cincinnati, Ohio 45267, USA.


The alpha(2)-adrenergic receptors (alpha(2)ARs) play a critical role in modulating neurotransmitter release in the central and peripheral sympathetic nervous systems. A polymorphism of the alpha(2)AR subtype localized to human chromosome 4 (the pharmacologic alpha(2C)AR subtype) within an intracellular domain has been identified in normal individuals. The polymorphism (denoted Del322-325) is because of an in-frame 12-nucleic acid deletion encoding a receptor lacking Gly-Ala-Gly-Pro in the third intracellular loop. To delineate the functional consequences of this structural alteration, Chinese hamster ovary cells were permanently transfected with constructs encoding wild-type human alpha(2C)AR and the polymorphic receptor. The Del322-325 variant had decreased high affinity agonist binding (K(H) = 7.3 +/- 0.95 versus 3.7 +/- 0.43 nm; %R(H) = 31 +/- 4 versus 49 +/- 4) compared with wild-type indicating impaired formation of the agonist-receptor-G protein complex. The polymorphic receptor displayed markedly depressed epinephrine-promoted coupling to G(i), inhibiting adenylyl cyclase by 10 +/- 4.3% compared with 73 +/- 2.4% for wild-type alpha(2C)AR. This also was so for the endogenous ligand norepinephrine and full and partial synthetic agonists. Depressed agonist-promoted coupling to the stimulation of MAP kinase ( approximately 71% impaired) and inositol phosphate production ( approximately 60% impaired) was also found with the polymorphic receptor. The Del322-325 receptor was approximately 10 times more frequent in African-Americans compared with Caucasians (allele frequencies 0.381 versus 0.040). Given this significant loss of function phenotype in several signal transduction cascades and the skewed ethnic prevalence, Del322-325 represents a pharmacoethnogenetic locus and may also be the basis for interindividual variation in cardiovascular or central nervous system pathophysiology.

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