Genetically Targeted Optical Control of an Endogenous G Protein-Coupled Receptor

Prashant C. Donthamsetti, Johannes Broichhagen, Vojtech Vyklicky, Cherise Stanley, Zhu Fu, Meike Visel, Joshua L. Levitz, Jonathan A. Javitch, Dirk Trauner, Ehud Y. Isacoff

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) are membrane proteins that play important roles in biology. However, our understanding of their function in complex living systems is limited because we lack tools that can target individual receptors with sufficient precision. State-of-the-art approaches, including DREADDs, optoXRs, and PORTL gated-receptors, control GPCR signaling with molecular, cell type, and temporal specificity. Nonetheless, these tools are based on engineered non-native proteins that may (i) express at nonphysiological levels, (ii) localize and turnover incorrectly, and/or (iii) fail to interact with endogenous partners. Alternatively, membrane-anchored ligands (t-toxins, DARTs) target endogenous receptors with molecular and cell type specificity but cannot be turned on and off. In this study, we used a combination of chemistry, biology, and light to control endogenous metabotropic glutamate receptor 2 (mGluR2), a Family C GPCR, in primary cortical neurons. mGluR2 was rapidly, reversibly, and selectively activated with photoswitchable glutamate tethered to a genetically targeted-plasma membrane anchor (membrane anchored Photoswitchable Orthogonal Remotely Tethered Ligand; maPORTL). Photoactivation was tuned by adjusting the length of the PORTL as well as the expression level and geometry of the membrane anchor. Our findings provide a template for controlling endogenous GPCRs with cell type specificity and high spatiotemporal precision.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)11522-11530
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of the American Chemical Society
Issue number29
StatePublished - Jul 24 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Catalysis
  • General Chemistry
  • Biochemistry
  • Colloid and Surface Chemistry


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