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Protein Sci. 2013 Jan;22(1):101-13. doi: 10.1002/pro.2192.

Molecular basis for dramatic changes in cannabinoid CB1 G protein-coupled receptor activation upon single and double point mutations.

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  • 1Division of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering, Materials and Process Simulation Center, MC 139-74, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, California 91125, USA.


There is considerable interest in determining the activation mechanism of G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs), one of the most important types of proteins for intercellular signaling. Recently, it was demonstrated for the cannabinoid CB1 GPCR, that a single mutation T210A could make CB1 completely inactive whereas T210I makes it essentially constitutively active. To obtain an understanding of this dramatic dependence of activity on mutation, we used first-principles-based methods to predict the ensemble of low-energy seven-helix conformations for the wild-type (WT) and mutants (T210A and T210I). We find that the transmembrane (TM) helix packings depend markedly on these mutations, leading for T210A to both TM3+TM6 and TM2+TM6 salt-bridge couplings in the cytoplasmic face that explains the inactivity of this mutant. In contrast T210I has no such couplings across the receptor explaining the ease in activating this mutant. WT has just the TM3+TM6 coupling, known to be broken upon GPCR activation. To test this hypothesis on activity, we predicted double mutants that would convert the inactive mutant to normal activity and then confirmed this experimentally. This CB1 activation mechanism, or one similar to it, is expected to play a role in other constitutively active GPCRs as well.

Copyright © 2012 The Protein Society.

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