New Structural Perspectives in G Protein-Coupled Receptor-Mediated Src Family Kinase Activation

Int J Mol Sci. 2021 Jun 17;22(12):6489. doi: 10.3390/ijms22126489.


Src family kinases (SFKs) are key regulators of cell proliferation, differentiation, and survival. The expression of these non-receptor tyrosine kinases is strongly correlated with cancer development and tumor progression. Thus, this family of proteins serves as an attractive drug target. The activation of SFKs can occur via multiple signaling pathways, yet many of them are poorly understood. Here, we summarize the current knowledge on G protein-coupled receptor (GPCR)-mediated regulation of SFKs, which is of considerable interest because GPCRs are among the most widely used pharmaceutical targets. This type of activation can occur through a direct interaction between the two proteins or be allosterically regulated by arrestins and G proteins. We postulate that a rearrangement of binding motifs within the active conformation of arrestin-3 mediates Src regulation by comparison of available crystal structures. Therefore, we hypothesize a potentially different activation mechanism compared to arrestin-2. Furthermore, we discuss the probable direct regulation of SFK by GPCRs and investigate the intracellular domains of exemplary GPCRs with conserved polyproline binding motifs that might serve as scaffolding domains to allow such a direct interaction. Large intracellular domains in GPCRs are often understudied and, in general, not much is known of their contribution to different signaling pathways. The suggested direct interaction between a GPCR and a SFK could allow for a potential immediate allosteric regulation of SFKs by GPCRs and thereby unravel a novel mechanism of SFK signaling. This overview will help to identify new GPCR-SFK interactions, which could serve to explain biological functions or be used to modulate downstream effectors.

Keywords: G protein-coupled receptors; G proteins; GPCR; SFK; SH3 domains; Src kinases; allosteric regulation; arrestin; biased signaling; kinase activation; non-receptor tyrosine kinases; polyproline motifs; signaling.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • Arrestins / chemistry
  • Arrestins / metabolism
  • Enzyme Activation
  • Humans
  • Molecular Docking Simulation
  • Molecular Dynamics Simulation
  • Multiprotein Complexes / chemistry
  • Multiprotein Complexes / metabolism
  • Protein Binding
  • Protein Conformation
  • Receptors, G-Protein-Coupled / chemistry*
  • Receptors, G-Protein-Coupled / metabolism*
  • Structure-Activity Relationship
  • src-Family Kinases / chemistry*
  • src-Family Kinases / metabolism*


  • Arrestins
  • Multiprotein Complexes
  • Receptors, G-Protein-Coupled
  • src-Family Kinases