Predicting G protein-coupled receptor downstream signaling by tissue expression

Bioinformatics. 2016 Nov 15;32(22):3435-3443. doi: 10.1093/bioinformatics/btw510. Epub 2016 Aug 2.


Motivation: G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) are central to how cells respond to their environment and a major class of pharmacological targets. However, comprehensive knowledge of which pathways are activated and deactivated by these essential sensors is largely unknown. To better understand the mechanism of GPCR signaling system, we integrated five independent genome-wide expression datasets, representing 275 human tissues and cell lines, with protein-protein interactions and functional pathway data.

Results: We found that tissue-specificity plays a crucial part in the function of GPCR signaling system. Only a few GPCRs are expressed in each tissue, which are coupled by different combinations of G-proteins or β-arrestins to trigger specific downstream pathways. Based on this finding, we predicted the downstream pathways of GPCR in human tissues and validated our results with L1000 knockdown data. In total, we identified 154,988 connections between 294 GPCRs and 690 pathways in 240 tissues and cell types.

Availability and implementation: The source code and results supporting the conclusions of this article are available at CONTACT: nick.tatonetti@columbia.eduSupplementary information: Supplementary data are available at Bioinformatics online.

MeSH terms

  • Datasets as Topic
  • Gene Expression
  • Humans
  • Organ Specificity*
  • Receptors, G-Protein-Coupled / metabolism*
  • Signal Transduction*
  • beta-Arrestins


  • Receptors, G-Protein-Coupled
  • beta-Arrestins