The structure and dynamics of GPCR oligomers: a new focus in models of cell-signaling mechanisms and drug design

Curr Opin Drug Discov Devel. 2005 Sep;8(5):577-84.


G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) represent approximately half of the potential pharmaceutical targets for current drugs, and thus the way in which these receptors assemble into dimeric/oligomeric structures is of vital interest in practical as well as conceptual aspects of current drug discovery efforts. The significance of such structures is based on the recent realization that ligand-dependent signaling by GPCRs is not necessarily transduced to the G protein by receptor monomers, but possibly by GPCR dimers or even oligomers that function as dynamic macromolecular assemblies. In addition, recent evidence that GPCR hetero-oligomerization can produce signaling units with unexpected combinations of pharmacological properties suggests entirely new methods for developing successful drugs. The dynamic mechanisms of these signaling assemblies remain to be elucidated. The development of increasingly accurate dynamic molecular models of GPCR dimers is expected to produce a more complete structural context for understanding the molecular mechanisms of GPCR function, and to aid in drug discovery.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Drug Design*
  • Humans
  • Ligands
  • Models, Molecular
  • Receptors, G-Protein-Coupled / chemistry
  • Receptors, G-Protein-Coupled / metabolism*
  • Signal Transduction / drug effects*


  • Ligands
  • Receptors, G-Protein-Coupled