Uncovering molecular mechanisms involved in activation of G protein-coupled receptors

Endocr Rev. 2000 Feb;21(1):90-113. doi: 10.1210/edrv.21.1.0390.


G protein-coupled, seven-transmembrane segment receptors (GPCRs or 7TM receptors), with more than 1000 different members, comprise the largest superfamily of proteins in the body. Since the cloning of the first receptors more than a decade ago, extensive experimental work has uncovered multiple aspects of their function and challenged many traditional paradigms. However, it is only recently that we are beginning to gain insight into some of the most fundamental questions in the molecular function of this class of receptors. How can, for example, so many chemically diverse hormones, neurotransmitters, and other signaling molecules activate receptors believed to share a similar overall tertiary structure? What is the nature of the physical changes linking agonist binding to receptor activation and subsequent transduction of the signal to the associated G protein on the cytoplasmic side of the membrane and to other putative signaling pathways? The goal of the present review is to specifically address these questions as well as to depict the current awareness about GPCR structure-function relationships in general.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • GTP-Binding Proteins / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Ligands
  • Models, Biological
  • Molecular Conformation
  • Receptors, Cell Surface / chemistry*
  • Receptors, Cell Surface / metabolism
  • Receptors, Cell Surface / physiology*


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