Regions of the alpha 1-adrenergic receptor involved in coupling to phosphatidylinositol hydrolysis and enhanced sensitivity of biological function.

Thumbnail Image



Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title

Repository Usage Stats



Regions of the hamster alpha 1-adrenergic receptor (alpha 1 AR) that are important in GTP-binding protein (G protein)-mediated activation of phospholipase C were determined by studying the biological functions of mutant receptors constructed by recombinant DNA techniques. A chimeric receptor consisting of the beta 2-adrenergic receptor (beta 2AR) into which the putative third cytoplasmic loop of the alpha 1AR had been placed activated phosphatidylinositol metabolism as effectively as the native alpha 1AR, as did a truncated alpha 1AR lacking the last 47 residues in its cytoplasmic tail. Substitutions of beta 2AR amino acid sequence in the intermediate portions of the third cytoplasmic loop of the alpha 1AR or at the N-terminal portion of the cytoplasmic tail caused marked decreases in receptor coupling to phospholipase C. Conservative substitutions of two residues in the C terminus of the third cytoplasmic loop (Ala293----Leu, Lys290----His) increased the potency of agonists for stimulating phosphatidylinositol metabolism by up to 2 orders of magnitude. These data indicate (i) that the regions of the alpha 1AR that determine coupling to phosphatidylinositol metabolism are similar to those previously shown to be involved in coupling of beta 2AR to adenylate cyclase stimulation and (ii) that point mutations of a G-protein-coupled receptor can cause remarkable increases in sensitivity of biological response.







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.

Unless otherwise indicated, scholarly articles published by Duke faculty members are made available here with a CC-BY-NC (Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial) license, as enabled by the Duke Open Access Policy. If you wish to use the materials in ways not already permitted under CC-BY-NC, please consult the copyright owner. Other materials are made available here through the author’s grant of a non-exclusive license to make their work openly accessible.