Full-length human GLP-1 receptor structure without orthosteric ligands

Nat Commun. 2020 Mar 9;11(1):1272. doi: 10.1038/s41467-020-14934-5.


Glucagon-like peptide-1 receptor (GLP-1R) is a class B G protein-coupled receptor that plays an important role in glucose homeostasis and treatment of type 2 diabetes. Structures of full-length class B receptors were determined in complex with their orthosteric agonist peptides, however, little is known about their extracellular domain (ECD) conformations in the absence of orthosteric ligands, which has limited our understanding of their activation mechanism. Here, we report the 3.2 Å resolution, peptide-free crystal structure of the full-length human GLP-1R in an inactive state, which reveals a unique closed conformation of the ECD. Disulfide cross-linking validates the physiological relevance of the closed conformation, while electron microscopy (EM) and molecular dynamic (MD) simulations suggest a large degree of conformational dynamics of ECD that is necessary for binding GLP-1. Our inactive structure represents a snapshot of the peptide-free GLP-1R and provides insights into the activation pathway of this receptor family.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Apoproteins / chemistry
  • Disulfides / metabolism
  • Glucagon-Like Peptide-1 Receptor / chemistry*
  • Glucagon-Like Peptide-1 Receptor / ultrastructure
  • Humans
  • Ligands
  • Molecular Dynamics Simulation
  • Protein Conformation
  • Protein Stability
  • Receptors, Glucagon / chemistry


  • Apoproteins
  • Disulfides
  • Glucagon-Like Peptide-1 Receptor
  • Ligands
  • Receptors, Glucagon