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Structure-function relationships of the human bitter taste receptor hTAS2R1: insights from molecular modeling studies

, : Structure-function relationships of the human bitter taste receptor hTAS2R1: insights from molecular modeling studies. Journal of Receptor and Signal Transduction Research 31(3): 229-240

Bitter taste receptors (T2Rs) belong to G-protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs). Despite extensive studies, the precise mechanisms of GPCR activation are still poorly understood. In this study, the models of the human bitter taste receptor hTAS2R1 alone and in complex with various ligands were constructed on the basis of template-based modeling and molecular docking. Then these models were subjected to all-atom molecular dynamics (MD) simulations in explicit lipid bilayers. The binding pocket of hTAS2R1 is mainly formed by transmembrane helix (TM) III, TM V, TM VI, and TM VII. Most of the residues contributing to ligand binding are positionally conserved comparing with other hTAS2Rs. By comparing the final conformations obtained by extensive MD simulations, we identified the changes in the transmembrane helices and the intra- and extracellular loops, which were expected to initiate the activation of the receptor. The intracellular loop II (ICL2) and TM III were found to play prominent roles in the process of activation. We proposed that a set of interactions between the aromatic Phe115 in the middle of ICL2 and three residues (Tyr103, Lys106, and Val107) at the cytoplasmic end of TM III may serve as a conformational switch of hTAS2R1 activation. All of the residues involved in the switch are highly conserved among T2Rs. This indicates that the control switch we proposed may be universal in T2Rs. Besides, our results also suggest that the formation of a short helical segment in ICL2 may be necessary for the activation of hTAS2R1.


PMID: 21619450

DOI: 10.3109/10799893.2011.578141

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