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Receptor dynamics provide new potential


The dynamics among certain so-called G protein-coupled receptors, of vital importance for the function of cells in the body, are different than previously believed, reports researchers from Karolinska Institutet in the journal Nature Communications.

The researchers has shown that a specific G protein-coupled receptor named Frizzled 6 (FZD6) can switch between acting in pairs and as an individual receptor, and that this switch is of vital importance for activation of the receptor. FZD6 is important for embryonic development and is significantly expressed in lung tissue. The new study demonstrates that the receptor acts in pairs when it is inactive, and that stimulation with messenger molecules results in the dimer separating into individual receptors, triggering the signals inside the cell.

It remains to be seen whether the same dynamics can be found when activating other G protein-coupled receptors that can act in pairs. As such, the finding may pave the way for the development of new medicines that exploit the dynamics of these receptors.

“It may be possible to develop pharmaceutical substances that have an inactivating effect by keeping active receptors in pairs, or vice versa, that activate the receptors by breaking down the dimers. Even if FZD6 cannot be considered a well-defined target for pharmaceutical development, the new concept of receptor dynamics is of utmost interest for many other G protein-coupled receptors and pharmaceutical treatment of many important diseases,” explains Gunnar Schulte, head of the group of researchers at the Department of Physiology and Pharmacology, Karolinska Institutet.

Publication”Agonist-induced dimer dissociation as a macromolecular step in G protein-coupled receptor signaling” . Julian Petersen, Shane C. Wright, David Rodríguez, Pierre Matricon, Noa Laha, Aviv Vromen, Assaf Friedler, Johan Strömqvist, Stefan Wennmalm, Jens Carlsson & Gunnar Schulte. Nature Communications , online 9 August 2017.

Gunnar Schulte. Photo: Stefan Zimmerman