Ligand recognition and G-protein coupling selectivity of cholecystokinin A receptor

Nat Chem Biol. 2021 Dec;17(12):1238-1244. doi: 10.1038/s41589-021-00841-3. Epub 2021 Sep 23.


Cholecystokinin A receptor (CCKAR) belongs to family A G-protein-coupled receptors and regulates nutrient homeostasis upon stimulation by cholecystokinin (CCK). It is an attractive drug target for gastrointestinal and metabolic diseases. One distinguishing feature of CCKAR is its ability to interact with a sulfated ligand and to couple with divergent G-protein subtypes, including Gs, Gi and Gq. However, the basis for G-protein coupling promiscuity and ligand recognition by CCKAR remains unknown. Here, we present three cryo-electron microscopy structures of sulfated CCK-8-activated CCKAR in complex with Gs, Gi and Gq heterotrimers, respectively. CCKAR presents a similar conformation in the three structures, whereas conformational differences in the 'wavy hook' of the Gα subunits and ICL3 of the receptor serve as determinants in G-protein coupling selectivity. Our findings provide a framework for understanding G-protein coupling promiscuity by CCKAR and uncover the mechanism of receptor recognition by sulfated CCK-8.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Benzodiazepinones / chemistry
  • Cholecystokinin / chemistry*
  • Cryoelectron Microscopy
  • Humans
  • Ligands
  • Models, Molecular
  • Protein Binding
  • Protein Conformation
  • Protein Multimerization
  • Receptor, Cholecystokinin A / chemistry*
  • Receptors, G-Protein-Coupled / chemistry*
  • Sincalide / analogs & derivatives*
  • Sincalide / chemistry
  • Triazoles / chemistry


  • 8-sulfocholecystokinin octapeptide
  • Benzodiazepinones
  • CE-326597
  • Ligands
  • Receptor, Cholecystokinin A
  • Receptors, G-Protein-Coupled
  • Triazoles
  • Cholecystokinin
  • Sincalide