Heterodimerisation of G protein-coupled receptors: implications for drug design and ligand screening

Expert Opin Drug Discov. 2010 May;5(5):461-74. doi: 10.1517/17460441003720467. Epub 2010 Apr 19.


Importance of the field: In recent times many G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) have been shown to dimerise/oligomerise and, in some cases, such structural organization has been found to be essential for receptor function or to play a modulatory role in living cells. The fact that these complexes may display differential pharmacology through, for example, the formation of a new binding pocket or signalling properties, as well as different functions or regulation in physiological tissues, offers novel opportunities for drug discovery. As a consequence, it seems necessary to develop new approaches suitable for GPCR heterodimer identification and selective ligand screening.

Areas covered in this review: This review gives an overview of new strategies that have been developed in an effort to incorporate the possibilities added by GPCR hetero-oligomerisation on the screening of compounds as drug candidates.

What the reader will gain: The reader will gain a wider knowledge about how the current understanding of GPCR oligomeric structure and function has mandated that hetero-oligomeric receptors must be considered as novel targets in the identification of future lead compounds.

Take home message: For the improvement of novel drug discovery, more structural and functional information on the process of receptor oligomerisation is needed, and the realisation that the function of GPCRs can be greatly influenced by other interacting receptors or proteins also demands consideration in the lead-compound developing process in order to achieve better therapeutic agents.