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Structural modeling of G-protein coupled receptors: An overview on automatic web-servers

Busato, Mirko, Giorgetti, Alejandro
The international journal of biochemistry & cell biology 2016 v.77 pp. 264-274
G-protein coupled receptors, crystallization, crystallography, databases, humans, models, prediction
Despite the significant efforts and discoveries during the last few years in G protein-coupled receptor (GPCR) expression and crystallization, the receptors with known structures to date are limited only to a small fraction of human GPCRs. The lack of experimental three-dimensional structures of the receptors represents a strong limitation that hampers a deep understanding of their function. Computational techniques are thus a valid alternative strategy to model three-dimensional structures. Indeed, recent advances in the field, together with extraordinary developments in crystallography, in particular due to its ability to capture GPCRs in different activation states, have led to encouraging results in the generation of accurate models. This, prompted the community of modelers to render their methods publicly available through dedicated databases and web-servers. Here, we present an extensive overview on these services, focusing on their advantages, drawbacks and their role in successful applications. Future challenges in the field of GPCR modeling, such as the predictions of long loop regions and the modeling of receptor activation states are presented as well.