Chemogenetic approaches to identify metabolically important GPCR signaling pathways: Therapeutic implications

J Neurochem. 2021 Aug;158(3):603-620. doi: 10.1111/jnc.15314. Epub 2021 Mar 10.


DREADDs (Designer Receptors Exclusively Activated by a Designer Drug) are designer G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) that are widely used in the neuroscience field to modulate neuronal activity. In this review, we will focus on DREADD studies carried out with genetically engineered mice aimed at elucidating signaling pathways important for maintaining proper glucose and energy homeostasis. The availability of muscarinic receptor-based DREADDs endowed with selectivity for one of the four major classes of heterotrimeric G proteins (Gs , Gi , Gq , and G12 ) has been instrumental in dissecting the physiological and pathophysiological roles of distinct G protein signaling pathways in metabolically important cell types. The novel insights gained from this work should inform the development of novel classes of drugs useful for the treatment of several metabolic disorders including type 2 diabetes and obesity.

Keywords: DREADD technology; G protein-coupled receptors; G proteins; mutant mouse models; obesity; type 2 diabetes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Intramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adipocytes / drug effects
  • Adipocytes / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Designer Drugs / metabolism*
  • Designer Drugs / pharmacology
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / drug therapy
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / metabolism
  • Hepatocytes / drug effects
  • Hepatocytes / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Neurons / drug effects
  • Neurons / metabolism
  • Obesity / drug therapy
  • Obesity / metabolism
  • Receptors, G-Protein-Coupled / genetics*
  • Receptors, G-Protein-Coupled / metabolism*
  • Signal Transduction / drug effects
  • Signal Transduction / physiology*


  • Designer Drugs
  • Receptors, G-Protein-Coupled