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Assay Drug Dev Technol. 2011 Feb;9(1):21-30. doi: 10.1089/adt.2010.0336. Epub 2010 Dec 6.

Application of G protein-coupled receptor-heteromer identification technology to monitor β-arrestin recruitment to G protein-coupled receptor heteromers.

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Laboratory for Molecular Endocrinology-GPCRs, Western Australian Institute for Medical Research and Centre for Medical Research, University of Western Australia, Hospital Avenue, Nedlands, WA 6009, Australia.


Understanding the role of G protein-coupled receptor (GPCR; also known as a 7 transmembrane receptor) heteromerization in the physiology and pathophysiology of cellular function has now become a major research focus. However, there is currently a lack of cell-based assays capable of profiling the specific functional consequences of heteromerization in a ligand-dependent manner. Understanding the pharmacology specifically associated with heteromer function in contrast to monomer or homomer function enables the so-called biochemical fingerprints of the receptor heteromer to be ascertained. This is the first step in establishing the physiological relevance of heteromerization, the goal of everyone in the field, as these fingerprints can then be utilized in future endeavors to elucidate heteromer function in native tissues. The simple, robust, ligand-dependent methodology described in this study utilizes a novel configuration of components of a proximity-based reporter system. This is exemplified by the use of bioluminescence resonance energy transfer due to the advantages of real-time live cell monitoring of proximity specifically between the heteromer complex and a protein that is recruited in a ligand-dependent manner, in this case, β-arrestin 2. Further, the demonstration of Z'-factor values in excess of 0.6 shows the potential of the method for screening compounds for heteromer-selective or biased activity. Three previously characterized GPCR heteromers, the chemokine receptor heteromers CCR2-CCR5 and CCR2-CXCR4, as well as the angiotensin II receptor type 1-bradykinin receptor type 2 heteromer, have been used to illustrate the profiling capability and specificity of the GPCR heteromer identification technology.

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