Design, expression, and characterization of a synthetic human cannabinoid receptor and cannabinoid receptor/G-protein fusion protein

David L. Farrens, T. D. Dunham, J. F. Fay, I. C. Dews, J. Caldwell, B. Nauert

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

19 Scopus citations


We report here the synthesis and characterization of two gene constructs designed to facilitate structure/function studies of the human neuronal cannabinoid receptor, CB1. The first gene, which we call shCB1, is a synthetic gene containing unique restriction sites spaced roughly 50-100 bases apart to facilitate rapid mutagenesis and cloning. A nine amino acid epitope tag (from the rhodopsin C-terminus) is also present in the shCB1 C-terminal tail to enable detection and purification using the monoclonal antibody 1D4. We find that that the shCB1 gene can be transiently expressed in COS cells with yield of ∼ 10-15 μg receptor per 15 cm plate and is wild type like in its ability to bind cannabinoid ligands. Our confocal microscopy studies indicate shCB1 targets to the membrane of HEK293 cells and is internalized in response to agonist. To facilitate functional studies, we also made a chimera in which the C-terminus of shCB1 was fused with the N-terminus of a G-protein alpha subunit, Gαi. The shCB1/Gαi chimera shows agonist stimulated GTPγS binding, and thus provides a simplified way to measure agonist induced CB1 activation. Taken together, the shCB1 and shCB1/Gαi gene constructs provide useful tools for biochemical and biophysical examinations of CB1 structure, activation and attenuation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)336-347
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Peptide Research
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 1 2002



  • CB1
  • Cannabinoid receptor
  • Fusion protein
  • G-Protein
  • GPCR
  • Synthetic gene

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Endocrinology

Cite this