Model organisms in G protein-coupled receptor research

Tobias Langenhan, Maureen M. Barr, Michael R. Bruchas, John Ewer, Leslie C. Griffith, Isabella Maiellaro, Paul H. Taghert, Benjamin H. White, Kelly R. Monk

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


The study of G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) has benefited greatly from experimental approaches that interrogate their functions in controlled, artificial environments. Working in vitro, GPCR receptorologists discovered the basic biologic mechanisms by which GPCRs operate, including their eponymous capacity to couple to G proteins; their molecular makeup, including the famed serpentine transmembrane unit; and ultimately, their three-dimensional structure. Although the insights gained from working outside the native environments of GPCRs have allowed for the collection of low-noise data, such approaches cannot directly address a receptor's native (in vivo) functions. An in vivo approach can complement the rigor of in vitro approaches: as studied in model organisms, it imposes physiologic constraints on receptor action and thus allows investigators to deduce the most salient features of receptor function. Here, we briefly discuss specific examples in which model organisms have successfully contributed to the elucidation of signals controlled through GPCRs and other surface receptor systems. We list recent examples that have served either in the initial discovery of GPCR signaling concepts or in their fuller definition. Furthermore, we selectively highlight experimental advantages, shortcomings, and tools of each model organism.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)596-603
Number of pages8
JournalMolecular pharmacology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1 2015
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Medicine
  • Pharmacology


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