G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) comprise an expanded superfamily of receptors in the human genome. Adhesion class G protein-coupled receptors (adhesion-GPCRs) form the second largest class of GPCRs. Despite the abundance, size, molecular structure, and functions in facilitating cell and matrix contacts in a variety of organ systems, adhesion-GPCRs are by far the most poorly understood GPCR class. Adhesion-GPCRs possess a unique molecular structure, with extended N-termini containing various adhesion domains. In addition, many adhesion-GPCRs are autoproteolytically cleaved into an N-terminal fragment (NTF, NT, α-subunit) and C-terminal fragment (CTF, CT, β-subunit) at a conserved GPCR autoproteolysis-inducing (GAIN) domain that contains a GPCR proteolysis site (GPS). These two features distinguish adhesion-GPCRs from other GPCR classes. Though active research on adhesion-GPCRs in diverse areas, such as immunity, neuroscience, and development and tumor biology has been intensified in the recent years, the general biological and pharmacological properties of adhesion-GPCRs are not well known, and they have not yet been used for biomedical purposes. The "6th International Adhesion-GPCR Workshop," held at the Institute of Physiology of the University of Würzburg on September 6-8, 2012, assembled a majority of the investigators currently actively pursuing research on adhesion-GPCRs, including scientists from laboratories in Europe, the United States, and Asia. The meeting featured the nascent mechanistic understanding of the molecular events driving the signal transduction of adhesion-GPCRs, novel models to evaluate their functions, and evidence for their involvement in human disease.
© 2012 New York Academy of Sciences.