Impaired formation of beta-adrenergic receptor-nucleotide regulatory protein complexes in pseudohypoparathyroidism.

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Heinsimer, JA
Davies, AO
Downs, RW
Levine, MA
Spiegel, AM
Drezner, MK
De Lean, A
Wreggett, KA
Caron, MG
Lefkowitz, RJ

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Decreased activity of the guanine nucleotide regulatory protein (N) of the adenylate cyclase system is present in cell membranes of some patients with pseudohypoparathyrodism (PHP-Ia) whereas others have normal activity of N (PHP-Ib). Low N activity in PHP-Ia results in a decrease in hormone (H)-stimulatable adenylate cyclase in various tissues, which might be due to decreased ability to form an agonist-specific high affinity complex composed of H, receptor (R), and N. To test this hypothesis, we compared beta-adrenergic agonist-specific binding properties in erythrocyte membranes from five patients with PHP-Ia (N = 45% of control), five patients with PHP-Ib (N = 97%), and five control subjects. Competition curves that were generated by increasing concentrations of the beta-agonist isoproterenol competing with [125I]pindolol were shallow (slope factors less than 1) and were computer fit to a two-state model with corresponding high and low affinity for the agonist. The agonist competition curves from the PHP-Ia patients were shifted significantly (P less than 0.02) to the right as a result of a significant (P less than 0.01) decrease in the percent of beta-adrenergic receptors in the high affinity state from 64 +/- 22% in PHP-Ib and 56 +/- 5% in controls to 10 +/- 8% in PHP-Ia. The agonist competition curves were computer fit to a "ternary complex" model for the two-step reaction: H + R + N in equilibrium HR + N in equilibrium HRN. The modeling was consistent with a 60% decrease in the functional concentration of N, and was in good agreement with the biochemically determined decrease in erythrocyte N protein activity. These in vitro findings in erythrocytes taken together with the recent observations that in vivo isoproterenol-stimulated adenylate cyclase activity is decreased in patients with PHP (Carlson, H. E., and A. S. Brickman, 1983, J. Clin. Endocrinol. Metab. 56:1323-1326) are consistent with the notion that N is a bifunctional protein interacting with both R and the adenylate cyclase. It may be that in patients with PHP-Ia a single molecular and genetic defect accounts for both decreased HRN formation and decreased adenylate cyclase activity, whereas in PHP-Ib the biochemical lesion(s) appear not to affect HRN complex formation.





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Heinsimer, JA, AO Davies, RW Downs, MA Levine, AM Spiegel, MK Drezner, A De Lean, KA Wreggett, et al. (1984). Impaired formation of beta-adrenergic receptor-nucleotide regulatory protein complexes in pseudohypoparathyroidism. J Clin Invest, 73(5). pp. 1335–1343. 10.1172/JCI111336 Retrieved from

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Robert J. Lefkowitz

The Chancellor's Distinguished Professor of Medicine

Dr. Lefkowitz’s memoir, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Stockholm, recounts his early career as a cardiologist and his transition to biochemistry, which led to his Nobel Prize win.

Robert J. Lefkowitz, M.D. is Chancellor’s Distinguished Professor of Medicine and Professor of Biochemistry and Chemistry at the Duke University Medical Center. He has been an Investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute since 1976. Dr. Lefkowitz began his research career in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s when there was not a clear consensus that specific receptors for drugs and hormones even existed. His group spent 15 difficult years developing techniques for labeling the receptors with radioactive drugs and then purifying the four different receptors that were known and thought to exist for adrenaline, so called adrenergic receptors. In 1986 Dr. Lefkowitz transformed the understanding of what had by then become known as G protein coupled receptors because of the way the receptor signal for the inside of a cell through G proteins, when he and his colleagues cloned the gene for the beta2-adrenergic receptor. They immediately recognized the similarity to a molecule called rhodopsin which is essentially a light receptor in the retina. This unexpected finding established the beta receptor and rhodopsin as the first member of a new family of proteins. Because each has a peptide structure, which weaves across the cell membrane seven times, these receptors are referred to as seven transmembrane receptors. This super family is now known to be the largest, most diverse and most therapeutically accessible of all the different kinds of cellular receptors. There are almost a thousand members of this receptor family and they regulate virtually all known physiological processes in humans. They include the receptors not only to numerous hormones and neurotransmitters but for the receptors which mediate the senses of sweet and bitter taste and smell amongst many others. Dr. Lefkowitz also discovered the mechanism by which receptor signaling is turned off, a process known as desensitization. Dr. Lefkowitz work was performed at the most fundamental and basic end of the research spectrum and has had remarkable consequences for clinical medicine. Today, more than half of all prescription drug sales are of drugs that target either directly or indirectly the receptors discovered by Dr. Lefkowitz and his trainees. These include amongst many others beta blockers, angiotensin receptor blockers or ARBs and antihistamines. Over the past decade he has discovered novel mechanisms by which the receptors function which may lead to the development of an entirely new class of drugs called “biased agonists”. Several such compounds are already in advanced stages of clinical testing. Dr. Lefkowitz has received numerous honors and awards, including the National Medal of Science, the Shaw Prize, the Albany Prize, and the 2012 Nobel Prize in Chemistry. He was elected to the USA National Academy of Sciences in 1988, the Institute of Medicine in 1994, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1988.

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