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Conserved Residues Control Activation of Mammalian G Protein-Coupled Odorant Receptors

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Institute of Chemistry - Nice, UMR 7272 CNRS - University Nice - Sophia Antipolis, 06108 Nice cedex 2, France
Department of Neuroscience, University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19104, United States
§ Department of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, North Carolina 27710, United States
Cite this: J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2015, 137, 26, 8611–8616
Publication Date (Web):June 19, 2015
Copyright © 2015 American Chemical Society

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    Odorant receptor (OR) genes and proteins represent more than 2% of our genome and 4% of our proteome and constitute the largest subgroup of G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs). The mechanism underlying OR activation remains poorly understood, as they do not share some of the highly conserved motifs critical for activation of non-olfactory GPCRs. By combining site-directed mutagenesis, heterologous expression, and molecular dynamics simulations that capture the conformational change of constitutively active mutants, we tentatively identified crucial residues for the function of these receptors using the mouse MOR256-3 (Olfr124) as a model. The toggle switch for sensing agonists involves a highly conserved tyrosine residue in helix VI. The ionic lock is located between the “DRY” motif in helix III and a positively charged “R/K” residue in helix VI. This study provides an unprecedented model that captures the main mechanisms of odorant receptor activation.

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    Alignment of GPCR sequences, full dose–response curves, supplementary figures and structures of the OR models. The Supporting Information is available free of charge on the ACS Publications website at DOI: 10.1021/jacs.5b04659.

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