Human G protein-coupled receptor studies in Saccharomyces cerevisiae

Biochem Pharmacol. 2016 Aug 15;114:103-15. doi: 10.1016/j.bcp.2016.02.010. Epub 2016 Feb 23.


G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) are one of the largest families of membrane proteins, with approximately 800 different GPCRs in the human genome. Signaling via GPCRs regulates many biological processes, such as cell proliferation, differentiation, and development. In addition, many receptors have a pivotal role in immunophysiology. Many hormones and neurotransmitters are ligands for these receptors, and hence it is not surprising that many drugs, either mimicking or blocking the action of the bodily substances, have been developed. It is estimated that 30-40% of current drugs on the market target GPCRs. Further identifying and elucidating the functions of GPCRs will provide opportunities for novel drug discovery, including for immunotherapy. The budding yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae (S. cerevisiae) is a very important and useful platform in this respect. There are many advantages of using a yeast assay system, as it is cheap, safe and stable; it is also convenient for rapid feasibility and optimization studies. Moreover, it offers a "null" background when studying human GPCRs. New developments regarding human GPCRs expressed in a yeast platform are providing insight into GPCR activation and signaling, and facilitate agonist and antagonist identification. In this review we summarize the latest findings regarding human G-protein-coupled receptors in studies using S. cerevisiae, ever since the year 2005 when we last published a review on this topic. We describe 11 families of GPCRs in detail, while including the principles and developments of each yeast system applied to these different GPCRs and highlight and generalize the experimental findings of GPCR function in these systems.

Keywords: Human G protein-coupled receptor; Receptor activation; Saccharomyces cerevisiae; Yeast screening.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Genes, Reporter
  • Humans
  • Receptors, G-Protein-Coupled / genetics
  • Receptors, G-Protein-Coupled / metabolism*
  • Receptors, Mating Factor / genetics
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae / genetics
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae / metabolism*
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae Proteins / genetics
  • Signal Transduction*


  • Receptors, G-Protein-Coupled
  • Receptors, Mating Factor
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae Proteins