A highly conserved feature across all families of 7TM receptors is a disulfide bridge between a Cys residue located at the extracellular end of transmembrane segment III (TM-III) and one in extracellular loop 2 (ECL-2). The zinc sensor GPR39 contains four Cys residues in the extracellular domains. By using mutagenesis, treatment with the reducing agent TCEP, and a labeling procedure for free sulfhydryl groups, we identify the pairing of these Cys residues in two disulfide bridges: the prototypical bridge between Cys (108) in TM-III and Cys (210) in ECL-2 and a second disulfide bridge connecting Cys (11) in the N-terminal domain with Cys (191) in ECL-2. Disruption of the conserved disulfide bond by mutagenesis greatly reduced the level of cell surface expression and eliminated agonist-induced increases in inositol phosphate production but surprisingly enhanced constitutive signaling. Disruption of the nonconserved disulfide bridge by mutagenesis led to an increase in the Zn (2+) potency. This phenotype, with an approximate 10-fold increase in agonist potency and a slight increase in E max, was mimicked by treatment of the wild-type receptor with TCEP at low concentrations, which had no effect on the receptor already lacking the second disulfide bridge and already displaying a high Zn (2+) potency. We conclude that the second disulfide bridge, which according to the beta2-adrenergic structure will form a covalent link across the entrance to the main ligand binding pocket, serves to dampen GPR39 activation. We suggest that formation of extra disulfide bridges may be an important general mechanism for regulating the activity of 7TM receptors.
Keywords: Amino Acid Motifs; Amino Acid Sequence; Binding Sites; Cells, Cultured; Cysteine; Disulfides; Humans; Models, Molecular; Molecular Sequence Data; Protein Structure, Tertiary; Receptors, G-Protein-Coupled; Sequence Alignment