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J Mol Biol. 2004 Jul 2;340(2):373-83.

Order changes within receptor systems upon ligand binding: receptor tightening/oligomerisation and the interpretation of binding parameters.

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  • 1Department of Chemistry, University of Cambridge, Lensfield Road, Cambridge CB2 1EW, UK.


Recent hydrogen-deuterium exchange experiments have highlighted tightening and loosening of protein structures upon ligand binding, with changes in bonding (DeltaH) and order (DeltaS) which contribute to the overall thermodynamics of ligand binding. Tightening and loosening show that ligand binding respectively stabilises or destabilises the internal structure of the protein, i.e. it shows positive or negative cooperativity between ligand binding and the receptor structure. In the case of membrane-bound receptors, such as G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) and ligand gated ion channel receptors (LGICRs), most binding studies have focussed on association/dissociation constants. Where these have been broken down into enthalpic and entropic contributions, the phenomenon of "thermodynamic discrimination" between antagonists and agonists has often been noted; e.g. for a receptor where agonist binding is predominantly enthalpy driven, antagonist binding is predominantly entropy driven and vice versa. These data have not previously been considered in terms of the tightening, or loosening, of receptor structures that respectively occurs upon positively, or negatively, cooperative binding of ligand. Nor have they been considered in light of the homo- and hetero-oligomerisation of GPCRs and the possibility of ligand-induced changes in oligomerisation. Here, we argue that analysis of the DeltaH and DeltaS of ligand binding may give useful information on ligand-induced changes in membrane-bound receptor oligomers, relevant to the differing effects of agonists and antagonists.

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