Oligomerization is a general characteristic of cell membrane receptors that is shared by G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) together with their G protein partners. Recent studies of these complexes, both in vivo and in purified reconstituted forms, unequivocally support this contention for GPCRs, perhaps with only rare exceptions. As evidence has evolved from experimental cell lines to more relevant in vivo studies and from indirect biophysical approaches to well defined isolated complexes of dimeric receptors alone and complexed with G proteins, there is an expectation that the structural basis of oligomerization and the functional consequences for membrane signaling will be elucidated. Oligomerization of cell membrane receptors is fully supported by both thermodynamic calculations and the selectivity and duration of signaling required to reach targets located in various cellular compartments.
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