Prediction of the 3-D structure of rat MrgA G protein-coupled receptor and identification of its binding site

J Mol Graph Model. 2007 Nov;26(4):800-12. doi: 10.1016/j.jmgm.2007.07.003. Epub 2007 Jul 14.


Mrg receptors are orphan G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) located mainly at the specific set of sensory neurons in the dorsal root ganglia, suggesting a role in nociception. We report here the 3-D structure of rat MrgA (rMrgA) receptor [obtained from homology modeling to the recently validated predicted structures of mouse MrgA1 and MrgC11] and the structure of adenine (a known agonist, K(i)=18nM) bound to rMrgA. This predicted binding site is located within transmembrane helical domains (TMs) 3, 4, 5 and 6, with Asn residues in TM3 and TM4 identified as the key residues for adenine binding. Here the side chain of Asn88 (TM3) forms two pairs of hydrogen bonds with N3 and N9 of adenine while Asn146 (TM4) makes two pairs of hydrogen bonds with N1 and N6 of adenine. These interactions lock adenine tightly in the binding pocket. We also predict the binding site of guanine (not an agonist) and seven other derivatives. Guanine cannot make the hydrogen bond to Asn146 (TM4), leading to binding too weak to be observed experimentally. The predicted binding affinity for other adenine derivatives correlates with the availability of the hydrogen bonds to these two Asn residues. These results validate the predicted structure for rat MrgA and suggest mutation experiments that could further validate the structure. Moreover, the predicted structure and binding site should be useful for seeking other small molecule agonists and antagonists.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adenine / chemistry
  • Adenine / metabolism
  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • Binding Sites / genetics
  • Computer Simulation
  • Guanine / chemistry
  • Guanine / metabolism
  • Hydrogen Bonding
  • Models, Molecular
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Molecular Structure
  • Protein Binding
  • Protein Structure, Secondary
  • Protein Structure, Tertiary
  • Rats
  • Receptors, G-Protein-Coupled / chemistry*
  • Receptors, G-Protein-Coupled / genetics
  • Receptors, G-Protein-Coupled / metabolism*
  • Sequence Homology, Amino Acid
  • Structure-Activity Relationship


  • Mrgprx3 protein, rat
  • Receptors, G-Protein-Coupled
  • Guanine
  • Adenine