A GPCR-based yeast biosensor for biomedical, biotechnological, and point-of-use cannabinoid determination

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The decriminalization of cannabis and the growing interest in cannabinoids as therapeutics require efficient methods to discover novel compounds and monitor cannabinoid levels in human samples and products. However, current methods are limited by the structural diversity of the active compounds. Here, we construct a G-protein coupled receptor-based yeast whole-cell biosensor, optimize it to achieve high sensitivity and dynamic range, and prove its effectiveness in three real-life applications. First, we screen a library of compounds to discover two novel agonists and four antagonists and demonstrate that our biosensor can democratize GPCR drug discovery by enabling low-cost high-throughput analysis using open-source automation. Subsequently, we bioprospect 54 plants to discover a novel phytocannabinoid, dugesialactone. Finally, we develop a robust portable device, analyze body-fluid samples, and confidently detect illicit synthetic drugs like “Spice”/“K2”. Taking advantage of the extensive sensing repertoire of GPCRs, this technology can be extended to detect numerous other compounds.
Original languageEnglish
Article number3664
JournalNature Communications
Number of pages16
Publication statusPublished - 2022

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