Changes in conformation at the cytoplasmic ends of the fifth and sixth transmembrane helices of a yeast G protein-coupled receptor in response to ligand binding

Biochemistry. 2011 Aug 16;50(32):6841-54. doi: 10.1021/bi200254h. Epub 2011 Jul 12.


The third intracellular loop (IL3) of G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) is an important contact domain between GPCRs and their G proteins. Previously, the IL3 of Ste2p, a Saccharomyces cerevisiae GPCR, was suggested to undergo a conformational change upon activation as detected by differential protease susceptibility in the presence and absence of ligand. In this study using disulfide cross-linking experiments we show that the Ste2p cytoplasmic ends of helix 5 (TM5) and helix 6 (TM6) that flank the amino and carboxyl sides of IL3 undergo conformational changes upon ligand binding, whereas the center of the IL3 loop does not. Single Cys substitution of residues in the middle of IL3 led to receptors that formed high levels of cross-linked Ste2p, whereas Cys substitution at the interface of IL3 and the contiguous cytoplasmic ends of TM5 and TM6 resulted in minimal disulfide-mediated cross-linked receptor. The alternating pattern of residues involved in cross-linking suggested the presence of a 3(10) helix in the middle of IL3. Agonist (WHWLQLKPGQPNleY) induced Ste2p activation reduced cross-linking mediated by Cys substitutions at the cytoplasmic ends of TM5 and TM6 but not by residues in the middle of IL3. Thus, the cytoplasmic ends of TM5 and TM6 undergo conformational change upon ligand binding. An α-factor antagonist (des-Trp, des-His-α-factor) did not influence disulfide-mediated Ste2p cross-linking, suggesting that the interaction of the N-terminus of α-factor with Ste2p is critical for inducing conformational changes at TM5 and TM6. We propose that the changes in conformation revealed for residues at the ends of TM5 and TM6 are affected by the presence of G protein but not G protein activation. This study provides new information about role of specific residues of a GPCR in signal transduction and how peptide ligand binding activates the receptor.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Cysteine / chemistry
  • Cytoplasm / metabolism*
  • Dimerization
  • Ligands
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Mutagenesis, Site-Directed
  • Protein Binding
  • Protein Conformation
  • Receptors, G-Protein-Coupled / chemistry
  • Receptors, G-Protein-Coupled / genetics
  • Receptors, G-Protein-Coupled / metabolism*
  • Receptors, Mating Factor / chemistry
  • Receptors, Mating Factor / genetics
  • Receptors, Mating Factor / metabolism*
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae / metabolism*
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae Proteins / chemistry
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae Proteins / genetics
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae Proteins / metabolism*


  • Ligands
  • Receptors, G-Protein-Coupled
  • Receptors, Mating Factor
  • STE2 protein, S cerevisiae
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae Proteins
  • Cysteine