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J Biol Chem. 2005 Jul 1;280(26):24380-5. Epub 2005 Apr 29.

Asymmetric functioning of dimeric metabotropic glutamate receptors disclosed by positive allosteric modulators.

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  • 1CNRS UMR5203, INSERM, U661, University Montpellier I, University Montpellier II, Institut de Génomique Fonctionnelle, Département de Pharmacologie Moléculaire, 141 Rue de la Cardonille, Montpellier F-34094 Cedex 5, France.


The recent discovery of positive allosteric modulators (PAMs) for G-protein-coupled receptors open new possibilities to control a number of physiological and pathological processes. Understanding the mechanism of action of such compounds will provide new information on the activation process of these important receptors. Within the last 10 years, a number of studies indicate that G-protein-coupled receptors can form dimers, but the functional significance of this phenomenon remains elusive. Here we used the metabotropic glutamate receptors as a model, because these receptors, for which PAMs have been identified, are constitutive dimers. We used the quality control system of the GABA(B) receptor to generate metabotropic glutamate receptor dimers in which a single subunit binds a PAM. We show that one PAM/dimer is sufficient to enhance receptor activity. Such a potentiation can still be observed if the subunit unable to bind the PAM is also made unable to activate G-proteins. However, the PAM acts as a non-competitive antagonist when it binds in the subunit that cannot activate G-proteins. These data are consistent with a single heptahelical domain reaching the active state per dimer during receptor activation.

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