Conditional expression and signaling of a specifically designed Gi-coupled receptor in transgenic mice

Nat Biotechnol. 1999 Feb;17(2):165-9. doi: 10.1038/6165.


To control G protein signaling in vivo, we have modified G protein-coupled receptors to respond exclusively to synthetic small molecule agonists and not to their natural agonist(s). These engineered receptors are designated RASSLs (receptor activated solely by a synthetic ligand). A prototype RASSL (Ro1) based on the Gi-coupled K opioid receptor was expressed in transgenic mice under the control of the tetracycline transactivator (tet) system. Activation of Ro1 expressed in the heart decreased heart rate by up to 80%, an expected effect of increased Gi signaling. Maximal heart rate changes occurred in less than 1 min, demonstrating the speed of this inducible signaling system. This Ro1-mediated slowing of heart rate was also subject to desensitization, which lasted more than 24 h. Both the initial effect on heart rate and the desensitization occurred, even though Ro1 is derived from a human opioid receptor not normally involved in heart rate control. In addition, the tet system was used to induce Ro1 expression in hepatocytes and salivary gland, where Gi signaling is known to control physiologic events such as proliferation and secretion. These studies demonstrate that a RASSL can be inducibly expressed in several mouse tissues and used in vivo to activate G protein signaling in a controllable fashion.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bradycardia / chemically induced
  • Bradycardia / metabolism
  • Cloning, Molecular
  • GTP-Binding Protein alpha Subunits, Gi-Go / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Pyrrolidines / pharmacology
  • Receptors, Opioid, kappa / agonists
  • Receptors, Opioid, kappa / genetics*
  • Receptors, Opioid, kappa / metabolism
  • Signal Transduction*


  • Pyrrolidines
  • Receptors, Opioid, kappa
  • Ro1 protein, mouse
  • Ro1 protein, synthetic
  • GTP-Binding Protein alpha Subunits, Gi-Go
  • spiradoline