Model Organisms in G Protein-Coupled Receptor Research

Mol Pharmacol. 2015 Sep;88(3):596-603. doi: 10.1124/mol.115.098764. Epub 2015 May 15.


The study of G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) has benefited greatly from experimental approaches that interrogate their functions in controlled, artificial environments. Working in vitro, GPCR receptorologists discovered the basic biologic mechanisms by which GPCRs operate, including their eponymous capacity to couple to G proteins; their molecular makeup, including the famed serpentine transmembrane unit; and ultimately, their three-dimensional structure. Although the insights gained from working outside the native environments of GPCRs have allowed for the collection of low-noise data, such approaches cannot directly address a receptor's native (in vivo) functions. An in vivo approach can complement the rigor of in vitro approaches: as studied in model organisms, it imposes physiologic constraints on receptor action and thus allows investigators to deduce the most salient features of receptor function. Here, we briefly discuss specific examples in which model organisms have successfully contributed to the elucidation of signals controlled through GPCRs and other surface receptor systems. We list recent examples that have served either in the initial discovery of GPCR signaling concepts or in their fuller definition. Furthermore, we selectively highlight experimental advantages, shortcomings, and tools of each model organism.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Drosophila / genetics*
  • Drosophila / metabolism
  • Drosophila Proteins / genetics
  • Drosophila Proteins / metabolism*
  • Receptors, G-Protein-Coupled / genetics
  • Receptors, G-Protein-Coupled / metabolism*


  • Drosophila Proteins
  • Receptors, G-Protein-Coupled