Apparent loss-of-function mutant GPCRs revealed as constitutively desensitized receptors

Biochemistry. 2002 Oct 8;41(40):11981-9. doi: 10.1021/bi020275m.


The DRY motif is a triplet amino acid sequence (aspartic acid, arginine, and tyrosine) that is highly conserved in G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs). Recently, we have shown that a molecular determinant for nephrogenic diabetes insipidus, the vasopressin receptor with a substitution at the DRY motif arginine (V2R R137H), is a constitutively desensitized receptor that is unable to couple to G proteins due to its constitutive association with beta-arrestin [Barak, L. S. (2001) Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 98, 93-98]. Additionally, the mutant receptors are localized in endocytic vesicles, identical to wild-type receptors stimulated with agonist. In this study, we asked whether the constitutively desensitized phenotype observed in the V2R R137H represents a general paradigm that may be extended to other GPCRs. We show that arginine substitutions in the DRY motifs of the alpha(1B) adrenergic receptor (alpha(1B)-AR) and angiotensin II type 1A receptor (AT(1A)R) result in receptors that are uncoupled from G proteins, associated with beta-arrestins, and found localized in endocytic vesicles rather than at the plasma membrane in the absence of agonists. The localization of the alpha(1B)-ARs and AT(1A)Rs with arginine substitutions can be restored to the plasma membrane by either using selective antagonists or preventing the endocytosis of the beta-arrestin-receptor complexes. These results indicate that the arginine residue of the DRY motif is essential for preserving the localization of the inactive receptor complex. Furthermore, constitutive desensitization may underlie some loss-of-function receptor phenotypes and represent an unappreciated mechanism of hormonal resistance.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Motifs
  • Animals
  • Arginine / genetics
  • Arginine / metabolism
  • Arrestin / genetics
  • Arrestin / metabolism
  • Cell Line
  • Dynamins / genetics
  • Dynamins / metabolism
  • GTP-Binding Proteins / metabolism*
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins
  • Humans
  • Luminescent Proteins / genetics
  • Luminescent Proteins / metabolism
  • Mutation
  • Protein Serine-Threonine Kinases / metabolism
  • Rats
  • Receptors, Cell Surface / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Receptors, Cell Surface / genetics*
  • Receptors, Cell Surface / metabolism
  • Receptors, Vasopressin / genetics*
  • Receptors, Vasopressin / metabolism
  • Recombinant Fusion Proteins / genetics
  • Recombinant Fusion Proteins / metabolism
  • Signal Transduction
  • Structure-Activity Relationship


  • Arrestin
  • Luminescent Proteins
  • Receptors, Cell Surface
  • Receptors, Vasopressin
  • Recombinant Fusion Proteins
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins
  • Arginine
  • Protein Serine-Threonine Kinases
  • GTP-Binding Proteins
  • Dynamins