Lipid G protein-coupled receptor ligand identification using beta-arrestin PathHunter assay

J Biol Chem. 2009 May 1;284(18):12328-38. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M806516200. Epub 2009 Mar 13.


A growing number of orphan G-protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) have been reported to be activated by lipid ligands, such as lysophosphatidic acid, sphingosine 1-phosphate (S1P), and cannabinoids, for which there are already well established receptors. These new ligand claims are controversial due to either lack of independent confirmations or conflicting reports. We used the beta-arrestin PathHunter assay system, a newly developed, generic GPCR assay format that measures beta-arrestin binding to GPCRs, to evaluate lipid receptor and ligand pairing. This assay eliminates interference from endogenous receptors on the parental cells because it measures a signal that is specifically generated by the tagged receptor and is immediately downstream of receptor activation. We screened a large number of newly "deorphaned" receptors (GPR23, GPR92, GPR55, G2A, GPR18, GPR3, GPR6, GPR12, and GPR63) and control receptors against a collection of approximately 400 lipid molecules to try to identify the receptor ligand in an unbiased fashion. GPR92 was confirmed to be a lysophosphatidic acid receptor with weaker responses to farnesyl pyrophosphate and geranylgeranyl diphosphate. The putative cannabinoid receptor GPR55 responded strongly to AM251, rimonabant, and lysophosphatidylinositol but only very weakly to endocannabinoids. G2A receptor was confirmed to be an oxidized free fatty acid receptor. In addition, we discovered that 3,3'-diindolylmethane, a dietary molecule from cruciferous vegetables, which has known anti-cancer properties, to be a CB(2) receptor partial agonist, with binding affinity around 1 microm. The anti-inflammatory effect of 3,3'-diindolylmethane in RAW264.7 cells was shown to be partially mediated by CB(2).

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Arrestins / metabolism*
  • CHO Cells
  • Cannabinoids / metabolism*
  • Cricetinae
  • Cricetulus
  • Humans
  • Lysophospholipids / metabolism*
  • Mice
  • Receptors, G-Protein-Coupled / metabolism*
  • Sphingosine / analogs & derivatives*
  • Sphingosine / metabolism
  • beta-Arrestins


  • Arrestins
  • Cannabinoids
  • Lysophospholipids
  • Receptors, G-Protein-Coupled
  • beta-Arrestins
  • sphingosine 1-phosphate
  • Sphingosine
  • lysophosphatidic acid