Regulating G protein-coupled receptors by topological inversion

Elife. 2019 Mar 5:8:e40234. doi: 10.7554/eLife.40234.


G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) are a family of proteins containing seven transmembrane helices, with the N- and C-terminus of the protein located at the extracellular space and cytosol, respectively. Here, we report that ceramide or related sphingolipids might invert the topology of many GPCRs that contain a GXXXN motif in their first transmembrane helix. The functional significance of this topological regulation is illustrated by the CCR5 chemokine receptor. In the absence of lipopolysaccharide (LPS), CCR5 adopts a topology consistent with that of GPCR, allowing mouse peritoneal macrophages to migrate toward its ligand CCL5. LPS stimulation results in increased production of dihydroceramide, which inverts the topology of CCR5, preventing macrophages from migrating toward CCL5. These results suggest that GPCRs may not always adopt the same topology and can be regulated through topological inversion.

Editorial note: This article has been through an editorial process in which the authors decide how to respond to the issues raised during peer review. The Reviewing Editor's assessment is that major issues remain unresolved (see decision letter).

Keywords: G protein-coupled receptor; biochemistry; cell biology; ceramide; chemical biology; chemotaxis; mouse; topology.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Allosteric Regulation
  • Animals
  • Cell Movement
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Ceramides / metabolism*
  • Lipopolysaccharides / metabolism
  • Macrophages, Peritoneal / drug effects
  • Macrophages, Peritoneal / physiology
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Protein Conformation
  • Receptors, CCR5 / chemistry*
  • Receptors, CCR5 / metabolism*
  • Receptors, G-Protein-Coupled / chemistry*
  • Receptors, G-Protein-Coupled / metabolism*


  • CCR5 protein, mouse
  • Ceramides
  • Lipopolysaccharides
  • Receptors, CCR5
  • Receptors, G-Protein-Coupled
  • dihydroceramide