Emerging concepts of guanine nucleotide-binding protein-coupled receptor (GPCR) function and implications for high throughput screening

Assay Drug Dev Technol. 2007 Jun;5(3):425-51. doi: 10.1089/adt.2007.062.


Guanine nucleotide binding protein (G protein) coupled receptors (GPCRs) comprise one of the largest families of proteins in the human genome and are a target for 40% of all approved drugs. GPCRs have unique structural motifs that allow them to interact with a wide and diverse series of extracellular ligands, as well as intracellular proteins, G proteins, receptor activity-modifying proteins, arrestins, and indeed other receptors. This distinctive structure has led to numerous efforts to discover drugs against GPCRs with targeted therapeutic uses. Such "designer" drugs currently include allosteric regulators, inverse agonists, and drugs targeting hetero-oligomeric complexes. Moreover, the large family of orphan GPCRs provides a rich and novel field of targets to discover drugs with unique therapeutic properties. The numerous technologies to discover GPCR drugs have also greatly advanced over the years, facilitating compound screening against known and orphan GPCRs, as well as in the identification of unique designer GPCR drugs. Indeed, high throughput screening (HTS) technologies employing functional cell-based approaches are now widely used. These include measurement of second messenger accumulation such as cyclic AMP, calcium ions, and inositol phosphates, as well as mitogen-activated protein kinase activation, protein-protein interactions, and GPCR oligomerization. This review focuses on how the improved understanding of the molecular pharmacology of GPCRs, coupled with a plethora of novel HTS technologies, is leading to the discovery and development of an entirely new generation of GPCR-based therapeutics.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Arrestins / physiology
  • Binding Sites
  • Calcium / metabolism
  • Cyclic AMP / physiology
  • Drug Design*
  • Drug Evaluation, Preclinical / methods*
  • G-Protein-Coupled Receptor Kinase 1 / physiology
  • GTP-Binding Proteins / physiology
  • Humans
  • Ligands
  • Mutation
  • Receptors, G-Protein-Coupled / chemistry
  • Receptors, G-Protein-Coupled / drug effects*
  • Receptors, G-Protein-Coupled / physiology*
  • beta-Arrestins


  • Arrestins
  • Ligands
  • Receptors, G-Protein-Coupled
  • beta-Arrestins
  • Cyclic AMP
  • G-Protein-Coupled Receptor Kinase 1
  • GRK1 protein, human
  • GTP-Binding Proteins
  • Calcium