Prostanoid receptors belong to the class of heptahelical plasma membrane receptors. For the five prostanoids, eight receptor subtypes have been identified. They display an overall sequence similarity of roughly 30%. Based on sequence comparison, single amino acids in different subtypes of different species have previously been identified by site-directed mutagenesis or in hybrid receptors that appear to be essential for ligand binding or G-protein coupling. Based on this information, a series of mutants of the human FP receptor was generated and characterized in ligand-binding and second-messenger-formation studies. It was found that mutation of His-81 to Ala in transmembrane domain 2 and of Arg-291 to Leu in transmembrane domain 7, which are putative interaction partners for the prostanoid's carboxyl group, abolished ligand binding. Mutants in which Ser-263 in transmembrane domain 6 or Asp-300 in transmembrane domain 7 had been replaced by Ala or Gln, respectively, no longer discriminated between prostaglandins PGF(2alpha) and PGD(2). Thus distortion of the topology of transmembrane domains 6 and 7 appears to interfere with the cyclopentane ring selectivity of the receptor. PGF(2alpha)-induced inositol formation was strongly reduced in the mutant Asp-300Gln, inferring a role for this residue in agonist-induced G-protein activation.