Investigation of the neurokinin-1 receptor by fluorescence techniques

G protein-coupled receptors (GPCR) constitute by far the largest family of transmembrane cell-surface proteins involved in signal transduction and are the most important targets for the development of novel therapeutic compounds. Many processes mediated by GPCR signal transduction are still not well understood at the molecular level and novel methods for their investigation are of general interest. The thesis presented here describes investigations on the neurokinin-1 receptor (NK1R), a member of the GPCR family, using fluorescence techniques. Fluorescence resonance energy transfer (FRET), the technique of preference in this work, is used to measure ligand-protein and protein-protein interactions in living cells. In order to reach this goal, the NK1R has been labelled with either fluorescent proteins or by using the novel post-translational ACP labelling technique. A FRET-based method for monitoring specific ligand binding to NK1R is described. In this context, a fluorescent agonist for NK1R was synthesized and characterized. The ACP labelling technique was shown to be superior for this kind of experiments compared to labelling with fluorescent proteins. The same ACP labelling approach was shown to be ideally suited to study oligomerization of membrane proteins by FRET. It was shown, that the NK1R does not form homo-dimers, as many other GPCRs do. From these experiments we furthermore conclude, that the NK1R is present in small microdomains in the membrane. Interactions between the NK1R and the different subunits of the heterotrimeric Gαqβ1γ2-complex were investigated by FRET using different instrumentation. Proximity of the NK1R and the G protein could be detected, but no change in FRET was observed after activation of the receptor. Total internal reflection fluorescence (TIRF), was used to develop an assay for studying ligand binding in vitro. Here, the NK1R was immobilized directly on a surface using a cell membrane preparation. This method was shown to be highly sensitive.

Vogel, Horst
Lausanne, EPFL
Other identifiers:
urn: urn:nbn:ch:bel-epfl-thesis3272-6

 Record created 2005-05-18, last modified 2018-01-27

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