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J Biol Chem. 2013 Apr 5;288(14):9593-601. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M112.437780. Epub 2013 Feb 18.

Glutamate acts as a partial inverse agonist to metabotropic glutamate receptor with a single amino acid mutation in the transmembrane domain.

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Department of Biophysics, Graduate School of Science, Kyoto University, Kyoto 606-8502, Japan.


Metabotropic glutamate receptor (mGluR), a prototypical family 3 G protein-coupled receptor (GPCR), has served as a model for studying GPCR dimerization, and growing evidence has revealed that a glutamate-induced dimeric rearrangement promotes activation of the receptor. However, structural information of the seven-transmembrane domain is severely limited, in contrast to the well studied family 1 GPCRs including rhodopsins and adrenergic receptors. Homology modeling of mGluR8 transmembrane domain with rhodopsin as a template suggested the presence of a conserved water-mediated hydrogen-bonding network between helices VI and VII, which presumably constrains the receptor in an inactive conformation. We therefore conducted a mutational analysis to assess structural similarities between mGluR and family 1 GPCRs. Mutational experiments confirmed that the disruption of the hydrogen-bonding network by T789Y(6.43) mutation induced high constitutive activity. Unexpectedly, this high constitutive activity was suppressed by glutamate, the natural agonist ligand, indicating that glutamate acts as a partial inverse agonist to this mutant. Fluorescence energy transfer analysis of T789Y(6.43) suggested that the glutamate-induced reduction of the activity originated not from the dimeric rearrangement but from conformational changes within each protomer. Double mutational analysis showed that the specific interaction between Tyr-789(6.43) and Gly-831(7.45) in T789Y(6.43) mutant was important for this phenotype. Therefore, the present study is consistent with the notion that the metabotropic glutamate receptor shares a common activation mechanism with family 1 GPCRs, where rearrangement between helices VI and VII causes the active state formation.

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