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Computational design of orthogonal membrane receptor-effector switches for rewiring signaling pathways.

Young M, Dahoun T, Sokrat B, Arber C, Chen KM, Bouvier M, Barth P

Verna and Marrs McLean Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX 77030.

Membrane receptors regulate numerous intracellular functions. However, the molecular underpinnings remain poorly understood because most receptors initiate multiple signaling pathways through distinct interaction interfaces that are structurally uncharacterized. We present an integrated computational and experimental approach to model and rationally engineer membrane receptor-intracellular protein systems signaling with novel pathway selectivity. We targeted the dopamine D2 receptor (D2), a G-protein-coupled receptor (GPCR), which primarily signals through Gi, but triggers also the Gq and beta-arrestin pathways. Using this approach, we designed orthogonal D2-Gi complexes, which coupled with high specificity and triggered exclusively the Gi-dependent signaling pathway. We also engineered an orthogonal chimeric D2-Gs/i complex that rewired D2 signaling from a Gi-mediated inhibitory into a Gs-dependent activating pathway. Reinterpreting the evolutionary history of GPCRs in light of the designed proteins, we uncovered an unforeseen hierarchical code of GPCR-G-protein coupling selectivity determinants. The results demonstrate that membrane receptor-cytosolic protein systems can be rationally engineered to regulate mammalian cellular functions. The method should prove useful for creating orthogonal molecular switches that redirect signals at the cell surface for cell-engineering applications.

Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 2018;115(27):7051-7056.

Pubmed ID: 29915030

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