BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE: Conventional determination of agonist efficacy at G-protein coupled receptors is measured by stimulation of guanosine-5′- γ-thiotriphosphate (GTPγS) binding. We analysed the role of guanosine diphosphate (GDP) in the process of activation of the M 2 muscarinic acetylcholine receptor and provide evidence that negative cooperativity between agonist and GDP binding is an alternative measure of agonist efficacy. EXPERIMENTAL APPROACH Filtration and scintillation proximity assays measured equilibrium binding as well as binding kinetics of [ 35S]GTPγS and [ 3H]GDP to a mixture of G-proteins as well as individual classes of G-proteins upon binding of structurally different agonists to the M 2 muscarinic acetylcholine receptor. KEY RESULTS Agonists displayed biphasic competition curves with the antagonist [ 3H]-N-methylscopolamine. GTPγS (1 μM) changed the competition curves to monophasic with low affinity and 50 μM GDP produced a similar effect. Depletion of membrane-bound GDP increased the proportion of agonist high-affinity sites. Carbachol accelerated the dissociation of [ 3H]GDP from membranes. The inverse agonist N-methylscopolamine slowed GDP dissociation and GTPγS binding without changing affinity for GDP. Carbachol affected both GDP association with and dissociation from G i/o G-proteins but only its dissociation from G s/olf G-proteins. CONCLUSIONS AND IMPLICATIONS These findings suggest the existence of a low-affinity agonist-receptor conformation complexed with GDP-liganded G-protein. Also the negative cooperativity between GDP and agonist binding at the receptor/G-protein complex determines agonist efficacy. GDP binding reveals differences in action of agonists versus inverse agonists as well as differences in activation of G i/o versus G s/olf G-proteins that are not identified by conventional GTPγS binding.
- GDP binding
- agonist efficacy
- muscarinic acetylcholine receptors