The effect of ligand efficacy on the formation and stability of a GPCR-G protein complex

Jie Yao Xiao, Gisselle Vélez Ruiz, Matthew R. Whorton, Søren G.F. Rasmussen, Brian T. DeVree, Xavier Deupi, Roger K. Sunahara, Brian Kobilka

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

189 Scopus citations


G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) mediate the majority of physiologic responses to hormones and neurotransmitters. However, many GPCRs exhibit varying degrees of agonist-independent G protein activation. This phenomenon is referred to as basal or constitutive activity. For many of these GPCRs, drugs classified as inverse agonists can suppress basal activity. There is a growing body of evidence that basal activity is physiologically relevant, and the ability of a drug to inhibit basal activity may influence its therapeutic properties. However, the molecular mechanism for basal activation and inhibition of basal activity by inverse agonists is poorly understood and difficult to study, because the basally active state is short-lived and represents a minor fraction of receptor conformations. Here, we investigate basal activation of the G protein Gs by the β2 adrenergic receptor (β 2AR) by using purified receptor reconstituted into recombinant HDL particles with a stoichiometric excess of Gs. The β2AR is site-specifically labeled with a small, environmentally sensitive fluorophore enabling direct monitoring of agonist- and Gs-induced conformational changes. In the absence of an agonist, the β2AR and Gs can be trapped in a complex by enzymatic depletion of guanine nucleotides. Formation of the complex is enhanced by the agonist isoproterenol, and it rapidly dissociates on exposure to concentrations of GTP and GDP found in the cytoplasm. The inverse agonist ICI prevents formation of the β2AR-Gs complex, but has little effect on preformed complexes. These results provide insights into G protein-induced conformational changes in the β2AR and the structural basis for ligand efficacy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)9501-9506
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number23
StatePublished - Jun 9 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • Adrenergic
  • Conformation
  • Constitutive activity
  • Inverse agonist
  • Receptor

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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