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The extracellular domain (ECD) of class B1 G-protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) plays a central role in signal transduction and is uniquely positioned to sense both the extracellular and membrane environments. Although recent studies suggest a role for membrane lipids in the modulation of class A and class F GPCR signaling properties, little is known about the effect of lipids on class B1 receptors. In this study, we employed multiscale molecular dynamics simulations to access the dynamics of the glucagon receptor (GCGR) ECD in the presence of native-like membrane bilayers. Simulations showed that the ECD could move about a hinge region formed by residues Q122-E126 to adopt both closed and open conformations relative to the transmembrane domain. ECD movements were modulated by binding of the glycosphingolipid GM3. These large-scale fluctuations in ECD conformation may affect the ligand binding and receptor activation properties. We also identify a unique phosphatidylinositol (4,5)-bisphosphate (PIP2) interaction profile near intracellular loop (ICL) 2/TM3 at the G-protein-coupling interface, suggesting a mechanism of engaging G-proteins that may have a distinct dependence on PIP2 compared with class A GPCRs. Given the structural conservation of class B1 GPCRs, the modulatory effects of GM3 and PIP2 on GCGR may be conserved across these receptors, offering new insights into potential therapeutic targeting.

Original publication




Journal article


Biophys J

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