Dimerization or oligomerization of G-protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) is a novel concept, which may lead to the reevaluation of the actions of pharmacological ligands, hormones, neurotransmitters, and other mediators acting on GPCRs. Although a large number of data obtained using different biophysical, biochemical and structural methods, and functional approaches argue for dimerization or oligomerization of these receptors, several publications criticized the applied methods and challenged the concept. The aim of this paper is to review the data that support the concept of receptor oligomerization, and the most important arguments against it. We conclude that it will require major methodical improvements to obtain decisive proof, whether GPCRs exist in their native membrane environments as homo- or heterodimeric or oligomeric complexes, in which receptor monomers have stable direct interactions. However, overwhelming amounts of data suggest that many GPCRs exhibit functional properties that require direct or indirect interactions between clustered receptors. Although it is difficult to conclude, about the exact nature of these interactions, dimerization or oligomerization of GPCRs is a useful paradigm for pharmacologists to study properties of receptors, which require functionally important clustering of receptors, such as trafficking of newly synthesized receptors to the cell surface, allosteric modulation of ligand binding, signaling specificity, co-internalization, or cross-inhibition of GPCRs.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism