Priming GPCR signaling through the synergistic effect of two G proteins

Tejas Gupte, Rabia U Malik, Ruth F. Sommese, Michael Ritt, Sivaraj Sivaramakrishnan

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29 Scopus citations


Although individual G-protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) are known to activate one or more G proteins, the GPCR-G-protein interaction is viewed as a bimolecular event involving the formation of a ternary ligand-GPCR-G-protein complex. Here, we present evidence that individual GPCR-G-protein interactions can reinforce each other to enhance signaling through canonical downstream second messengers, a phenomenon we term "GPCR priming." Specifically, we find that the presence of noncognate Gq protein enhances cAMP stimulated by two Gs-coupled receptors, β2-adrenergic receptor (β2-AR) and D1 dopamine receptor (D1 -R). Reciprocally, Gs enhances IP1 through vasopressin receptor (V1A -R) but not α1 adrenergic receptor (α1-AR), suggesting that GPCR priming is a receptor-specific phenomenon. The C terminus of either the Gαs or Gαq subunit is sufficient to enhance Gα subunit activation and cAMP levels. Interaction of Gαs or Gαq C termini with the GPCR increases signaling potency, suggesting an altered GPCR conformation as the underlying basis for GPCR priming. We propose three parallel mechanisms involving (i) sequential G-protein interactions at the cognate site, (ii) G-protein interactions at distinct allosteric and cognate sites on the GPCR, and (iii) asymmetric GPCR dimers. GPCR priming suggests another layer of regulation in the classic GPCR ternary-complex model, with broad implications for the multiplicity inherent in signaling networks.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3756-3761
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number14
StatePublished - Apr 4 2017

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank Dr. Lincoln R. Potter and Potter Laboratory members for assistance with radioligand experiments and Dr. Sean Conner for access to a gamma counter. Work was done using Typhoon Gel Imager (GE Healthcare) at the University of Minnesota-University Imaging Centers ( Research was funded by American Heart Association Scientist Development Grant 13SDG14270009 and NIH Grants 1DP2 CA186752-01 and 1-R01-GM-105646-01-A1 (to S.S.). T.M.G. is a National Centre for Biological Sciences-inStem Career Development Fellow. R.F.S. is a Life Sciences Research Foundation postdoctoral fellow.


  • Cell signaling
  • Er/k linker
  • G protein
  • GPCR
  • Gpcr priming


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