Adhesion G protein-coupled receptors (aGPCRs) play critical roles in diverse biological processes, including neurodevelopment and cancer progression. aGPCRs are characterized by large and diverse extracellular regions (ECRs) that are autoproteolytically cleaved from their membrane-embedded signaling domains. Although ECRs regulate receptor function, it is not clear whether ECRs play a direct regulatory role in G-protein signaling or simply serve as a protective cap for the activating "Stachel" sequence. Here, we present a mechanistic analysis of ECR-mediated regulation of GPR56/ADGRG1, an aGPCR with two domains [pentraxin and laminin/neurexin/sex hormonebinding globulin-like (PLL) and G protein-coupled receptor autoproteolysis-inducing (GAIN)] in its ECR. We generated a panel of high-affinity monobodies directed to each of these domains, from which we identified activators and inhibitors of GPR56-mediated signaling. Surprisingly, these synthetic ligands modulated signaling of a GPR56 mutant defective in autoproteolysis and hence, in Stachel peptide exposure. These results provide compelling support for a ligand-induced and ECR-mediated mechanism that regulates aGPCR signaling in a transient and reversible manner, which occurs in addition to the Stachel-mediated activation.
Keywords: adhesion GPCR; allostery; cell signaling; monobody; protein engineering.