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J Biol Chem. 2015 Nov 13;290(46):27972-85. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M115.668491. Epub 2015 Sep 30.

Adrenocorticotropic Hormone (ACTH) Responses Require Actions of the Melanocortin-2 Receptor Accessory Protein on the Extracellular Surface of the Plasma Membrane.

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From the Department of Pharmacology and Physiology, University of Rochester Medical Center Rochester, New York 14642.
From the Department of Pharmacology and Physiology, University of Rochester Medical Center Rochester, New York 14642


The melanocortin-2 (MC2) receptor is a G protein-coupled receptor that mediates responses to ACTH. The MC2 receptor acts in concert with the MC2 receptor accessory protein (MRAP) that is absolutely required for ACTH binding and signaling. MRAP has a single transmembrane domain and forms a highly unusual antiparallel homodimer that is stably associated with MC2 receptors at the plasma membrane. Despite the physiological importance of the interaction between the MC2 receptor and MRAP, there is little understanding of how the accessory protein works. The dual topology of MRAP has made it impossible to determine whether highly conserved and necessary regions of MRAP are required on the intracellular or extracellular face of the plasma membrane. The strategy used here was to fix the orientation of two antiparallel MRAP molecules and then introduce inactivating mutations on one side of the membrane or the other. This was achieved by engineering proteins containing tandem copies of MRAP fused to the amino terminus of the MC2 receptor. The data firmly establish that only the extracellular amino terminus (Nout) copy of MRAP, oriented with critical segments on the extracellular side of the membrane, is essential. The transmembrane domain of MRAP is also required in only the Nout orientation. Finally, activity of MRAP-MRAP-MC2-receptor fusion proteins with inactivating mutations in either MRAP or the receptor was rescued by co-expression of free wild-type MRAP or free wild-type receptor. These results show that the basic MRAP-MRAP-receptor signaling unit forms higher order complexes and that these multimers signal.


G protein-coupled receptor (GPCR); accessory protein; adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH); cyclic AMP (cAMP); melanocortin receptor; melanocortin receptor accessory protein (MRAP); membrane protein; membrane protein topology; signal transduction; transmembrane domain

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