Domain swapping in G-protein coupled receptor dimers

Protein Eng. 1998 Dec;11(12):1181-93. doi: 10.1093/protein/11.12.1181.


Computer simulations were performed on models of the beta2-adrenergic receptor dimer, including 5,6-domain swapped dimers which have been proposed as the active, high affinity form (here the dimer interface lies between helices 5 and 6). The calculations suggest that the domain swapped dimer is a high energy structure in both the apo dimer and in the presence of propranolol. In the presence of agonist the energy of the domain swapped dimer is significantly lowered. Analysis of the dimer structure suggests that the agonist-induced conformational change optimizes the helix-helix interactions at the 5-6 interface. An antagonist on the other hand has little effect on these interactions. These observations are consistent with the hypothesis that the agonist functions by shifting the equilibrium in favour of the domain swapped dimer. Indirect support for the domain swapping hypothesis was obtained from the correlated mutations amongst the external residues of the known beta2-adrenergic receptors. These occur mainly at the 5-6 interface at precisely the locations predicted by the simulations; site-directed mutagenesis data in support of a functional role for these lipid-facing correlated residues is presented. The article includes a review of the experimental evidence for G-protein coupled receptor dimerization. Many other aspects of G-protein coupled receptor activation are discussed in terms of this domain swapping hypothesis

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • Computer Simulation
  • Dimerization*
  • GTP-Binding Proteins / chemistry
  • GTP-Binding Proteins / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Models, Molecular
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Mutagenesis, Site-Directed
  • Propranolol / pharmacology
  • Protein Conformation
  • Receptors, Adrenergic, beta-2 / chemistry*
  • Receptors, Adrenergic, beta-2 / metabolism
  • Thermodynamics


  • Receptors, Adrenergic, beta-2
  • Propranolol
  • GTP-Binding Proteins