The EMBO journal

The oligomeric state sets GABA(B) receptor signalling efficacy.

PMID 21552208


G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) have key roles in cell-cell communication. Recent data suggest that these receptors can form large complexes, a possibility expected to expand the complexity of this regulatory system. Among the brain GPCRs, the heterodimeric GABA(B) receptor is one of the most abundant, being distributed in most brain regions, on either pre- or post-synaptic elements. Here, using specific antibodies labelled with time-resolved FRET compatible fluorophores, we provide evidence that the heterodimeric GABA(B) receptor can form higher-ordered oligomers in the brain, as suggested by the close proximity of the GABA(B1) subunits. Destabilizing the oligomers using a competitor or a GABA(B1) mutant revealed different G protein coupling efficiencies depending on the oligomeric state of the receptor. By examining, in heterologous system, the G protein coupling properties of such GABA(B) receptor oligomers composed of a wild-type and a non-functional mutant heterodimer, we provide evidence for a negative functional cooperativity between the GABA(B) heterodimers.