A concept for G protein activation by G protein-coupled receptor dimers: the transducin/rhodopsin interface

Photochem Photobiol Sci. 2004 Jun;3(6):628-38. doi: 10.1039/b315661c. Epub 2004 Feb 27.


G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) are ubiquitous and essential in modulating virtually all physiological processes. These receptors share a similar structural design consisting of the seven-transmembrane alpha-helical segments. The active conformations of the receptors are stabilized by an agonist and couple to structurally highly conserved heterotrimeric G proteins. One of the most important unanswered questions is how GPCRs couple to their cognate G proteins. Phototransduction represents an excellent model system for understanding G protein signaling, owing to the high expression of rhodopsin in rod photoreceptors and the multidisciplinary experimental approaches used to study this GPCR. Here, we describe how a G protein (transducin) docks on to an oligomeric GPCR (rhodopsin), revealing structural details of this critical interface in the signal transduction process. This conceptual model takes into account recent structural information on the receptor and G protein, as well as oligomeric states of GPCRs.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Dimerization
  • Models, Molecular
  • Protein Conformation
  • Protein Structure, Secondary
  • Receptors, G-Protein-Coupled / chemistry*
  • Receptors, G-Protein-Coupled / physiology*
  • Rhodopsin / chemistry
  • Rhodopsin / physiology


  • Receptors, G-Protein-Coupled
  • Rhodopsin