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Nat Commun. 2011 Jul 5;2:380. doi: 10.1038/ncomms1386.

Identification of the PGRMC1 protein complex as the putative sigma-2 receptor binding site.

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Division of Radiological Sciences, Department of Radiology, Mail Box 8225, Washington University School of Medicine, 510 S. Kingshighway Boulevard, St Louis, Missouri 63110, USA.


The sigma-2 receptor, whose gene remains to be cloned, has been validated as a biomarker for tumour cell proliferation. Here we report the use of a novel photoaffinity probe, WC-21, to identify the sigma-2 receptor-binding site. WC-21, a sigma-2 ligand containing both a photoactive azide moiety and a fluorescein isothiocyanate group, irreversibly labels sigma-2 receptors in rat liver; the membrane-bound protein was identified as PGRMC1 (progesterone receptor membrane component 1). Immunocytochemistry reveals that both PGRMC1 and SW120, a fluorescent sigma-2 receptor ligand, colocalize with molecular markers of the endoplasmic reticulum and mitochondria in HeLa cells. Overexpression and knockdown of the PGRMC1 protein results in an increase and a decrease in binding of a sigma-2 selective radioligand, respectively. The identification of the putative sigma-2 receptor-binding site as PGRMC1 should stimulate the development of unique imaging agents and cancer therapeutics that target the sigma-2 receptor/PGRMC1 complex.

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