Analytical pharmacology of G protein-coupled receptors by stoichiometric expression of the receptor and G(alpha) protein subunits

J Pharmacol Toxicol Methods. Jan-Feb 2001;45(1):3-16. doi: 10.1016/s1056-8719(01)00126-5.


The description of a new family of recombinant proteins, which are constructed by the covalent fusion of the cDNA encoding a G protein-coupled receptor with that of a G(alpha) protein subunit, has recently been introduced as an original strategy to explore receptor pharmacology under defined experimental conditions. As such, a controlled 1:1 stoichiometry of receptor and G(alpha) protein expression can be achieved, as well as a forced spatial proximity to each other. Fusion proteins have been revealed as active at the receptor ligand binding level and functional at the G(alpha) protein and effector level. Insights on analytical pharmacological data are discussed for wild-type and mutant receptors interacting with a given G(alpha) protein subunit and different subtypes of either wild-type or mutant G(alpha) proteins activated by a single receptor subtype. A possible alteration of the receptor:G(alpha) protein selectivity may occur due either to the spatial proximity of both protein partners or to a constraint receptor state unable to accommodate to different G(alpha) protein states. Coactivation of endogenous G(alpha) proteins in host cells expressing a fusion protein has also been observed, but depends mainly on the coupling efficiency of the receptor and G(alpha) protein engaged in the fusion process. The ligand's apparent intrinsic activity has been shown to be either enhanced, attenuated, or unmodified when the functional responses of a fusion protein are compared to the coexpression of both fusion protein partners.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Epitopes
  • GTP-Binding Proteins / chemistry
  • GTP-Binding Proteins / drug effects
  • GTP-Binding Proteins / genetics*
  • Ligands
  • Receptors, Cell Surface / chemistry
  • Receptors, Cell Surface / drug effects
  • Receptors, Cell Surface / genetics*
  • Recombinant Fusion Proteins / chemistry
  • Recombinant Fusion Proteins / genetics
  • Recombinant Fusion Proteins / pharmacology
  • Signal Transduction
  • Species Specificity


  • Epitopes
  • Ligands
  • Receptors, Cell Surface
  • Recombinant Fusion Proteins
  • GTP-Binding Proteins