An escort for GPCRs: implications for regulation of receptor density at the cell surface

Trends Pharmacol Sci. 2008 Oct;29(10):528-35. doi: 10.1016/ Epub 2008 Aug 27.


G-protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) are dynamically regulated by various mechanisms that tune their response to external stimuli. Modulation of their plasma membrane density, via trafficking between subcellular compartments, constitutes an important process in this context. Substantial information has been accumulated on cellular pathways that remove GPCRs from the cell surface for subsequent degradation or recycling. In comparison, much less is known about the mechanisms controlling trafficking of neo-synthesized GPCRs from intracellular compartments to the cell surface. Although GPCR export to the plasma membrane is commonly considered to mostly implicate the default, unregulated secretory pathway, an increasing number of observations indicate that trafficking to the plasma membrane from the endoplasmic reticulum might be tightly regulated and involve specific protein partners. Moreover, a new paradigm is emerging in some cellular contexts, in which stocks of functional receptors retained within intracellular compartments can be rapidly mobilized to the plasma membrane to maintain sustained physiological responsiveness.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Cell Membrane / metabolism*
  • Endoplasmic Reticulum / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Models, Biological
  • Protein Transport
  • Receptors, G-Protein-Coupled / metabolism*


  • Receptors, G-Protein-Coupled