Two Arginine-Glutamate Ionic Locks Near the Extracellular Surface of FFAR1 Gate Receptor Activation

Chi Shing Sum, Irina G. Tikhonova, Stefano Costanzi, Marvin C. Gershengorn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

53 Citations (Scopus)
414 Downloads (Pure)


Activation of a number of class A G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) is thought to involve two molecular switches, a rotamer toggle switch within the transmembrane domain and an ionic lock at the cytoplasmic surface of the receptor; however, the mechanism by which agonist binding changes these molecular interactions is not understood. Importantly, 80% of GPCRs including free fatty acid receptor 1 (FFAR1) lack the complement of amino acid residues implicated in either or both of these two switches; the mechanism of activation of these GPCRs is therefore less clear. By homology modeling, we identified two Glu residues (Glu-145 and Glu-172) in the second extracellular loop of FFAR1 that form putative interactions individually with two transmembrane Arg residues (Arg-183(5.39) and Arg-258(7.35)) to create two ionic locks. Molecular dynamics simulations showed that binding of agonists to FFAR1 leads to breakage of these Glu-Arg interactions. In mutagenesis experiments, breakage of these two putative interactions by substituting Ala for Glu-145 and Glu-172 caused constitutive receptor activation. Our results therefore reveal a molecular switch for receptor activation present on the extracellular surface of FFAR1 that is broken by agonist binding. Similar ionic locks between the transmembrane domains and the extracellular loops may constitute a mechanism common to other class A GPCRs also.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3529-3536
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number6
Early online date08 Dec 2008
Publication statusPublished - 06 Feb 2009

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Cell Biology
  • Molecular Biology


Dive into the research topics of 'Two Arginine-Glutamate Ionic Locks Near the Extracellular Surface of FFAR1 Gate Receptor Activation'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this