The role of receptor kinases and arrestins in G protein-coupled receptor regulation

Annu Rev Pharmacol Toxicol. 1998:38:289-319. doi: 10.1146/annurev.pharmtox.38.1.289.


G protein-coupled receptors (GPRs) play a key role in controlling hormonal regulation of numerous second-messenger pathways. However, following agonist activation, most GPRs rapidly lose their ability to respond to hormone. For many GPRs, this process, commonly referred to as desensitization, appears to be primarily mediated by two protein families: G protein-coupled receptor kinases (GRKs) and arrestins. GRKs specifically bind to the agonist-occupied receptor, thereby promoting receptor phosphorylation, which in turn leads to arrestin binding. Arrestin binding precludes receptor/G protein interaction leading to functional desensitization. Many GPRs are then removed from the plasma membrane via clathrin-mediated endocytosis. Recent studies have implicated endocytosis in the resensitization of GPRs and have linked both GRKs and arrestins to this process. In this review, we discuss the role of GRKs and arrestins in regulating agonist-specific signaling and trafficking of GPRs.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Arrestins / metabolism*
  • GTP-Binding Proteins / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Phosphotransferases / metabolism*


  • Arrestins
  • Phosphotransferases
  • GTP-Binding Proteins