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AAPS J. 2006 May 12;8(2):E322-36.

Computational methods in drug design: modeling G protein-coupled receptor monomers, dimers, and oligomers.

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Center for Drug Design, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, University of North Carolina Greensboro, Greensboro, NC 27402, USA.


G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) are membrane proteins that serve as very important links through which cellular signal transduction mechanisms are activated. Many vital physiological events such as sensory perception, immune defense, cell communication, chemotaxis, and neurotransmission are mediated by GPCRs. Not surprisingly, GPCRs are major targets for drug development today. Most modeling studies in the GPCR field have focused upon the creation of a model of a single GPCR (ie, a GPCR monomer) based upon the crystal structure of the Class A GPCR, rhodopsin. However, the emerging concept of GPCR dimerization has challenged our notions of the monomeric GPCR as functional unit. Recent work has shown not only that many GPCRs exist as homo- and heterodimers but also that GPCR oligomeric assembly may have important functional roles. This review focuses first on methodology for the creation of monomeric GPCR models. Special emphasis is given to the identification of localized regions where the structure of a GPCR may diverge from that of bovine rhodopsin. The review then focuses on GPCR dimers and oligomers and the bioinformatics methods available for identifying homo- and heterodimer interfaces.

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