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Identification of cholesterol recognition amino acid consensus (CRAC) motif in G-protein coupled receptors

Jafurulla, Md., Tiwari, Shrish, Chattopadhyay, Amitabha
Biochemical and biophysical research communications 2011 v.404 no.1 pp. 569-573
G-protein coupled receptors, amino acids, binding sites, cholesterol, rhodopsin, signal transduction
G-protein coupled receptors (GPCRs) are the largest class of molecules involved in signal transduction across membranes, and represent major targets in the development of novel drug candidates in all clinical areas. Membrane cholesterol has been reported to have an important role in the function of a number of GPCRs. Several structural features of proteins, believed to result in preferential association with cholesterol, have been recognized. Cholesterol recognition/interaction amino acid consensus (CRAC) sequence represents such a motif. Many proteins that interact with cholesterol have been shown to contain the CRAC motif in their sequence. We report here the presence of CRAC motifs in three representative GPCRs, namely, rhodopsin, the β₂-adrenergic receptor, and the serotonin₁A receptor. Interestingly, the function of these GPCRs has been previously shown to be dependent on membrane cholesterol. The presence of CRAC motifs in GPCRs indicates that interaction of cholesterol with GPCRs could be specific in nature. Further analysis shows that CRAC motifs are inherent characteristic features of the serotonin₁A receptor and are conserved over natural evolution. These results constitute the first report of the presence of CRAC motifs in GPCRs and provide novel insight in the molecular nature of GPCR–cholesterol interaction.