Linking receptor activation to changes in Sw I and II of Gα proteins

J Struct Biol. 2013 Oct;184(1):63-74. doi: 10.1016/j.jsb.2013.02.016. Epub 2013 Mar 4.


G-protein coupled receptors catalyze nucleotide exchange on G proteins, which results in subunit dissociation and effector activation. In the recent β2AR-Gs structure, portions of Switch I and II of Gα are not fully elucidated. We paired fluorescence studies of receptor-Gαi interactions with the β2AR-Gs and other Gi structures to investigate changes in Switch I and II during receptor activation and GTP binding. The β2/β3 loop containing Leu194 of Gαi is located between Switches I and II, in close proximity to IC2 of the receptor and the C-terminus of Gα, thus providing an allosteric connection between these Switches and receptor activation. We compared the environment of residues in myristoylated Gαi proteins in the heterotrimer to that upon receptor activation and subsequent GTP binding. Upon receptor activation, residues in both Switch regions are less solvent-exposed, as compared to the heterotrimer. Upon GTPγS binding, the environment of several residues in Switch I resemble the receptor-bound state, while Switch II residues display effects on their environment which are consistent with their role in GTP binding and Gβγ dissociation. The ability to merge available crystal structures with solution studies is a powerful tool to gain insight into conformational changes associated with receptor-mediated Gi protein activation.

Keywords: G(i); Gα(i); N-terminal myristoylation; Site-directed fluorescence; Switch I/II; α5 helix.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • GTP-Binding Proteins / metabolism*
  • Guanosine Triphosphate / metabolism
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Protein Binding
  • Rats
  • Receptors, G-Protein-Coupled / metabolism*


  • Receptors, G-Protein-Coupled
  • Guanosine Triphosphate
  • GTP-Binding Proteins