Novel GPCRs and their endogenous ligands: expanding the boundaries of physiology and pharmacology

Trends Pharmacol Sci. 1999 Sep;20(9):370-5. doi: 10.1016/s0165-6147(99)01366-8.


Nearly all molecules known to signal cells via G proteins have been assigned a cloned G-protein-coupled-receptor (GPCR) gene. This has been the result of a decade-long genetic search that has also identified some receptors for which ligands are unknown; these receptors are described as orphans (oGPCRs). More than 80 of these novel receptor systems have been identified and the emphasis has shifted to searching for novel signalling molecules. Thus, multiple neurotransmitter systems have eluded pharmacological detection by conventional means and the tremendous physiological implications and potential for these novel systems as targets for drug discovery remains unexploited. The discovery of all the GPCR genes in the genome and the identification of the unsolved receptor-transmitter systems, by determining the endogenous ligands, represents one of the most important tasks in modern pharmacology.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • GTP-Binding Proteins / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Ligands
  • Receptors, Cell Surface / drug effects
  • Receptors, Cell Surface / genetics
  • Receptors, Cell Surface / physiology*


  • Ligands
  • Receptors, Cell Surface
  • GTP-Binding Proteins