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Acta Pharmacol Sin. 2012 Mar;33(3):300-11. doi: 10.1038/aps.2011.170. Epub 2012 Jan 23.

Structure and mechanism for recognition of peptide hormones by Class B G-protein-coupled receptors.

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Laboratory of Structural Sciences, Van Andel Research Institute, Grand Rapids, MI 49503, USA.


Class B G-protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) are receptors for peptide hormones that include glucagon, parathyroid hormone, and calcitonin. These receptors are involved in a wide spectrum of physiological activities, from metabolic regulation and stress control to development and maintenance of the skeletal system. As such, they are important drug targets for the treatment of diabetes, osteoporosis, and stress related disorders. Class B GPCRs are organized into two modular domains: an extracellular domain (ECD) and a helical bundle that contains seven transmembrane helices (TM domain). The ECD is responsible for the high affinity and specificity of hormone binding, and the TM domain is required for receptor activation and signal coupling to downstream G-proteins. Although the structure of the full-length receptor remains unknown, the ECD structures have been well characterized for a number of Class B GPCRs, revealing a common fold for ligand recognition. This review summarizes the general structural principles that guide hormone binding by Class B ECDs and their implications in the design of peptide hormone analogs for therapeutic purposes.

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