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J Mol Endocrinol. 2010 Jul;45(1):1-8. doi: 10.1677/JME-10-0014. Epub 2010 Apr 8.

Imaging of persistent cAMP signaling by internalized G protein-coupled receptors.

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Rudolf Virchow Center, DFG-Research Center for Experimental Biomedicine, University of Würzburg, Würzburg, Germany.


G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) are the largest family of plasma membrane receptors. They mediate the effects of several endogenous cues and serve as important pharmacological targets. Although many biochemical events involved in GPCR signaling have been characterized in great detail, little is known about their spatiotemporal dynamics in living cells. The recent advent of optical methods based on fluorescent resonance energy transfer allows, for the first time, to directly monitor GPCR signaling in living cells. Utilizing these methods, it has been recently possible to show that the receptors for two protein/peptide hormones, the TSH and the parathyroid hormone, continue signaling to cAMP after their internalization into endosomes. This type of intracellular signaling is persistent and apparently triggers specific cellular outcomes. Here, we review these recent data and explain the optical methods used for such studies. Based on these findings, we propose a revision of the current model of the GPCR-cAMP signaling pathway to accommodate receptor signaling at endosomes.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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