Cell-Surface Protein–Protein Interaction Analysis with Time-Resolved FRET and Snap-Tag Technologies: Application to G Protein-Coupled Receptor Oligomerization

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Abstract

G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) are key players in cell–cell communication, the dysregulation of which has often deleterious effects leading to pathologies such as psychiatric and neurological diseases. Consequently, GPCRs represent excellent drug targets, and as such are the object of intense research in drug discovery for therapeutic application. Recently, the GPCR field has been revolutionized by the demonstration that GPCRs are part of large protein complexes that control their pharmacology, activity, and signaling. Moreover, in these complexes, one GPCR can either associate with itself, forming homodimers or homooligomers, or with other receptor types, forming heterodimeric or heterooligomeric receptor entities that display new receptor features. These features include alterations in ligand cooperativity and selectivity, the activation of novel signaling pathways, and novel processes of desensitization. Thus, it has become necessary to identify GPCR-associated protein complexes of interest at the cell surface, and to determine the state of oligomerization of these receptors and their interactions with their partner proteins. This is essential to understand the function of GPCRs in their native environment, as well as ways to either modulate or control receptor activity with appropriate pharmacological tools, and to develop new therapeutic strategies. This requires the development of technologies to precisely address protein–protein interactions between oligomers at the cell surface. In collaboration with Cisbio Bioassay, we have developed such a technology, which combines TR-FRET detection with a new labeling method called SnapTag. This technology has allowed us to address the oligomeric state of many GPCRs.