Membrane driven spatial organization of GPCRs

Sci Rep. 2013 Oct 9;3:2909. doi: 10.1038/srep02909.


Spatial organization of G-protein coupled receptors (GPCRs) into dimers and higher order oligomers has been demonstrated in vitro and in vivo. The pharmacological readout was shown to depend on the specific interfaces, but why particular regions of the GPCR structure are involved, and how ligand-determined states change them remains unknown. Here we show why protein-membrane hydrophobic matching is attained upon oligomerization at specific interfaces from an analysis of coarse-grained molecular dynamics simulations of the spontaneous diffusion-interaction of the prototypical beta2-adrenergic (β2AR) receptors in a POPC lipid bilayer. The energy penalty from mismatch is significantly reduced in the spontaneously emerging oligomeric arrays, making the spatial organization of the GPCRs dependent on the pattern of mismatch in the monomer. This mismatch pattern is very different for β2AR compared to the highly homologous and structurally similar β1AR, consonant with experimentally observed oligomerization patterns of β2AR and β1AR. The results provide a mechanistic understanding of the structural context of oligomerization.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Cell Membrane / chemistry*
  • Cholesterol / chemistry*
  • Humans
  • Hydrophobic and Hydrophilic Interactions
  • Lipid Bilayers / chemistry*
  • Molecular Dynamics Simulation
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Phosphatidylcholines / chemistry*
  • Protein Conformation
  • Receptors, Adrenergic, beta-1 / chemistry*
  • Receptors, Adrenergic, beta-2 / chemistry*
  • Sequence Homology, Amino Acid


  • Lipid Bilayers
  • Phosphatidylcholines
  • Receptors, Adrenergic, beta-1
  • Receptors, Adrenergic, beta-2
  • Cholesterol
  • 1-palmitoyl-2-oleoylphosphatidylcholine