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Mol Endocrinol. 2008 May;22(5):1154-62. doi: 10.1210/me.2007-0520. Epub 2008 Feb 7.

Conformational changes in the parathyroid hormone receptor associated with activation by agonist.

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Department of Physiology, Tufts University School of Medicine, Boston, Massachusetts 02111, USA.


Binding of hormones to their cognate G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) induces conformational shifts within the receptor based on evidence from a few hormone-receptor systems. Employing an engineered disulfide bond formation strategy and guided by a previously established model of the PTH-PTH receptor (PTHR)1 bimolecular complex, we set out to document and characterize the nature of agonist-induced changes in this family B GPCR. A mutant PTHR1 was generated which incorporates a Factor Xa cleavage site in the third intracellular loop. Treatment with Factor Xa fragments the receptor. However, if a new disulfide bond was formed before exposure to the enzyme, the fragments remain held together. A set of double cysteine-containing mutants were designed to probe the internal relative movements of transmembrane (TM) helices 2 and TM7. PTH enhanced formation of disulfide bonds in the K240C/F447C and A242C/F447C mutants. For the F238C/F447C mutant, a disulfide bond is formed in the basal state, but is disrupted by interaction with PTH. For the D241C/F447C PTHR1 construct, no disulfide bond formation was observed in either the basal or hormone-bound state. These findings demonstrate that the conformation of PTHR1 is altered from the basal state when PTH is bound. Novel information regarding spatial proximities between TM2 and TM7 of PTHR1 and the nature of relative movements between the two transmembrane regions was revealed. The data confirm and extend the experimentally derived model of the PTH-PTHR1 complex and provide insights at a new level of detail into the early events in PTHR1 activation by PTH.

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