Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Diomedes Logothetis

Second Advisor

Javier Gonzalez-Maeso


G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) are the largest family of signaling proteins in animals and represent the largest family of druggable targets in the human genome. Therefore, it is of no surprise that the molecular mechanisms of GPCR activation and signal transduction have attracted close attention for the past few decades. Several stabilizing interactions within the GPCR transmembrane (TM) domain helices regulate receptor activation. An example is a salt bridge between 2 highly conserved amino acids at the bottom of TM3 and TM6 that has been characterized for a large number of GPCRs. Through structural modeling and molecular dynamics (MD) simulations, we predicted several electrostatic interactions to be involved in metabotropic glutamate receptor 2 (mGlu2R) activation. To experimentally test these predictions, we employed a charge reversal mutagenesis approach to disrupt predicted receptor electrostatic intramolecular interactions as well as intermolecular interactions between the receptor and G proteins. Using two electrode voltage clamp in Xenopus laevis oocytes expressing mutant receptors and G-proteins, we revealed novel electrostatic interactions, mostly located around intracellular loops 2 and 3 of mGlu2R, that are critical for both receptor and G-protein activation. These studies contribute to elucidating the molecular determinants of mGluRs activation and conformational coupling to G-proteins, and can likely be extended to include other classes of GPCRs.


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