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FEBS J. 2005 Jun;272(12):2926-38.

The study of G-protein coupled receptor oligomerization with computational modeling and bioinformatics.

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Department of Physiology and Biophysics, Weill Medical College of Cornell University, NY 10021, USA.


To achieve a structural context for the analysis of G-protein coupled receptor (GPCR) oligomers, molecular modeling must be used to predict the corresponding interaction interfaces. The task is complicated by the paucity of detailed structural data at atomic resolution, and the large number of possible modes in which the bundles of seven transmembrane (TM) segments of the interacting GPCR monomers can be packed together into dimers and/or higher-order oligomers. Approaches and tools offered by bioinformatics can be used to reduce the complexity of this task and, combined with computational modeling, can serve to yield testable predictions for the structural properties of oligomers. Most of the bioinformatics methods take advantage of the evolutionary relation that exists among GPCRs, as expressed in their sequences and measurable in the common elements of their structural and functional features. These common elements are responsible for the presence of detectable patterns of motifs and correlated mutations evident from the alignment of the sequences of these complex biological systems. The decoding of these patterns in terms of structural and functional determinants can provide indications about the most likely interfaces of dimerization/oligomerization of GPCRs. We review here the main approaches from bioinformatics, enhanced by computational molecular modeling, that have been used to predict likely interfaces of dimerization/oligomerization of GPCRs, and compare results from their application to rhodopsin-like GPCRs. A compilation of the most frequently predicted GPCR oligomerization interfaces points to specific regions of TMs 4-6.

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