Monitoring the formation of dynamic G-protein-coupled receptor-protein complexes in living cells

Biochem J. 2005 Feb 1;385(Pt 3):625-37. doi: 10.1042/BJ20041361.


GPCRs (G-protein-coupled receptors) play an extremely important role in transducing extracellular signals across the cell membrane with high specificity and sensitivity. They are central to many of the body's endocrine and neurotransmitter pathways, and are consequently a major drug target. It is now clear that GPCRs interact with a range of proteins, including other GPCRs. Identifying and elucidating the function of such interactions will significantly enhance our understanding of cellular function, with the promise of new and improved pharmaceuticals. Biophysical techniques involving resonance energy transfer, namely FRET (fluorescence resonance energy transfer) and BRET (bioluminescence resonance energy transfer), now enable us to monitor the formation of dynamic GPCR-protein complexes in living cells, in real time. Their use has firmly established the concept of GPCR oligomerization, as well as demonstrating GPCR interactions with GPCR kinases, beta-arrestins, adenylate cyclase and a subunit of an inwardly rectifying K+ channel. The present review examines recent technological advances and experimental applications of FRET and BRET, discussing particularly how they have been adapted to extract an ever-increasing amount of information about the nature, specificity, stoichiometry, kinetics and agonist-dependency of GPCR-protein interactions.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Survival
  • Cells / cytology*
  • Cells / metabolism*
  • Fluorescence Resonance Energy Transfer*
  • Humans
  • Protein Binding
  • Protein Structure, Quaternary
  • Receptors, G-Protein-Coupled / agonists
  • Receptors, G-Protein-Coupled / chemistry*
  • Receptors, G-Protein-Coupled / metabolism*


  • Receptors, G-Protein-Coupled