Investigating molecular interactions of G protein coupled receptors by fluorescence techniques

G Protein coupled receptors (GPCRs) constitute an abundant family of membrane proteins which play a central role in cellular signaling and are important targets for modern medicine. Despite intensive research, central questions of the molecular mechanism of GPCR mediated signal transduction remain unresolved. This thesis concerns α1b-adrenergic receptor (α1b-AR) as a prototypic GPCR. The question whether ARs form homo- or hetero-oligomers was investigated using fluorescence resonance energy transfer (FRET). An important finding was that both α1a and α1b-AR subtypes form homo-oligomers. Also hetero-oligomers have been observed between the α1b- and the α1a-AR subtypes, but not with less related receptors. Another interesting finding concerns α1-AR co-internalization which correlates with the ability of the receptor to hetero-oligomerize. Investigating particular processes in living cells is often complicated by the complex cellular environment. Here we have developed a rather simple approach to study transmembrane signaling by using supported cell membrane sheets. They were prepared by pressing a glass coverslip on the apical part of cultured cells, ripping off large regions of the native plasma membrane. For the α1b-AR we still could observe ligand binding to such sheets, indicating that GPCR functionality was at least partly conserved. Due to the absence of cytosolic autofluorescence of the cells, supported membrane sheets were also found to be suited for single-molecule microscopy. Because both leaflets of the supported membranes remained fluid, it was possible to follow the diffusion of certain membrane proteins. For example using fluorescence recovery after photobleaching (FRAP) and single-molecule microscopy, we investigated how G proteins diffused along the membrane and compartmentalized. The predominant role of lipid anchors in G protein localization was highlighted by measuring the diffusion of two Gαq proteins fused with citrine at two different positions and citrine based constructs designed to mimic the monomeric and the trimeric form of a G protein. Finally, first results were obtained showing the feasibility to form supported cell membrane sheets on microstructured devices consisting of a planar silicon support perforated with arrays of holes. This geometry provides a full accessibility to both intra- and extracellular sides of the bilayer. This concept could potentially be applied for the development of chip-based screening assays.

Vogel, Horst
Lausanne, EPFL
Other identifiers:
urn: urn:nbn:ch:bel-epfl-thesis3286-7

Note: The status of this file is: EPFL only

 Record created 2005-05-25, last modified 2018-03-17

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