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J Pharmacol Exp Ther. 2013 May;345(2):189-97. doi: 10.1124/jpet.112.201046. Epub 2013 Feb 20.

Novel insights into CB1 cannabinoid receptor signaling: a key interaction identified between the extracellular-3 loop and transmembrane helix 2.

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Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology, Center for Substance Abuse Research, Temple University, Philadelphia, PA 19140, USA.


Activation of the cannabinoid CB1 receptor (CB1) is modulated by aspartate residue D2.63(176) in transmembrane helix (TMH) 2. Interestingly, D2.63 does not affect the affinity for ligand binding at the CB1 receptor. Studies in class A G protein-coupled receptors have suggested an ionic interaction between residues of TMH2 and 7. In this report, modeling studies identified residue K373 in the extracellular-3 (EC-3) loop in charged interactions with D2.63. We investigated this possibility by performing reciprocal mutations and biochemical studies. D2.63(176)A, K373A, D2.63(176)A-K373A, and the reciprocal mutant with the interacting residues juxtaposed D2.63(176)K-K373D were characterized using radioligand binding and guanosine 5'-3-O-(thio)triphosphate functional assays. None of the mutations resulted in a significant change in the binding affinity of N-(piperidiny-1-yl)-5-(4-chlorophenyl)-1-(2,4-dichloro-phenyl)-4-methyl-1H-pyrazole-3-carboxamide hydrochloride (SR141716A) or (-)-3cis -[2-hydroxyl-4-(1,1-dimethyl-heptyl)phenyl]-trans-4-[3-hydroxyl-propyl] cyclohexan-1-ol (CP55,940). Modeling studies indicated that binding-site interactions and energies of interaction for CP55,940 were similar between wild-type and mutant receptors. However, the signaling of CP55,940, and (R)-(+)-[2,3-dihydro-5-methyl-3-[(4-morpholinyl)methyl]-pyrrolo[1,2,3-de]-1,4-benzoxazin-6-yl](1-naphthalenyl)-methanone mesylate (WIN55,212-2) was impaired at the D2.63(176)A-K373A and the single-alanine mutants. In contrast, the reciprocal D2.63(176)K-K373D mutant regained function for both CP55,940 and WIN55,212-2. Computational results indicate that the D2.63(176)-K373 ionic interaction strongly influences the conformation(s) of the EC-3 loop, providing a structure-based rationale for the importance of the EC-3 loop to signal transduction in CB1. The putative ionic interaction results in the EC-3 loop pulling over the top (extracellular side) of the receptor; this EC-3 loop conformation may serve protective and mechanistic roles. These results suggest that the ionic interaction between D2.63(176) and K373 is important for CB1 signal transduction.

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