Ligand based structural studies of the CB1 cannabinoid receptor

J Pept Res. 2002 Dec;60(6):348-56. doi: 10.1034/j.1399-3011.2002.21069.x.


The structural characterization of G-protein coupled receptors (GPCRs) is quite important as these proteins represent a vast number of therapeutic targets involved in drug discovery. However, solving the three-dimensional structure of GPCR has been a significant obstacle in structural biology. A variety of reasons, including their large molecular weight, intricate interhelical packing, as well as their membrane-associated topology, has hindered efforts aimed at their purification. In the absence of pure protein, available in the native conformation, classical methods of structural analysis such as X-ray crystallography and nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy cannot be utilized successfully. Alternative methods must therefore be explored to facilitate the structural features involved in drug-receptor interactions. The methods described herein detail the use of covalent probes, or affinity labels, capable of binding covalently to a target GPCR at its binding site(s). Our approach involves the incorporation of a number of reactive moieties in different regions of the ligand molecule each of which is expected to react with different amino acid residues. Information obtained from such work coupled with computer modeling and validated by the use of site-directed mutagenesis of GPCRs allows for three-dimensional mapping of the receptor binding site. It also sheds light on the different possible binding motifs for the various classes of agonists and antagonists and identifies amino acid residues involved with GPCR activation or inactivation.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acids / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Binding Sites
  • Dronabinol / chemistry
  • Dronabinol / metabolism
  • GTP-Binding Proteins / chemistry
  • GTP-Binding Proteins / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Ligands
  • Molecular Probes / chemistry
  • Molecular Probes / metabolism
  • Photoaffinity Labels / chemistry*
  • Photoaffinity Labels / metabolism
  • Protein Binding
  • Receptors, Cannabinoid
  • Receptors, Drug / chemistry*
  • Receptors, Drug / metabolism
  • Structure-Activity Relationship
  • Tritium


  • Amino Acids
  • Ligands
  • Molecular Probes
  • Photoaffinity Labels
  • Receptors, Cannabinoid
  • Receptors, Drug
  • Tritium
  • Dronabinol
  • GTP-Binding Proteins