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The molecular pharmacology of inhalational anesthetics remains poorly understood. Despite accumulating evidence suggesting that neuronal membrane proteins are potential targets of inhaled anesthetics, most currently favored membrane protein targets lack any direct evidence for anesthetic binding. We report herein the location of the binding site for the inhaled anesthetic halothane at the amino acid residue level of resolution in the ligand binding cavity in a prototypical G protein-coupled receptor, bovine rhodopsin. Tryptophan fluorescence quenching and direct photoaffinity labeling with [(14)C]halothane suggested an interhelical location of halothane with a stoichiometry of 1 (halothane/rhodopsin molar ratio). Radiosequence analysis of [(14)C]halothane-labeled rhodopsin revealed that halothane contacts an amino acid residue (Trp265) lining the ligand binding cavity in the transmembrane core of the receptor. The predicted functional consequence, competition between halothane and the ligand retinal, was shown here by spectroscopy and is known to exist in vivo. These data suggest that competition with endogenous ligands may be a general mechanism of the action of halothane at this large family of signaling proteins.


Yumiko Ishizawa, Ravindernath Pidikiti, Paul A Liebman, Roderic G Eckenhoff. G protein-coupled receptors as direct targets of inhaled anesthetics. Molecular pharmacology. 2002 May;61(5):945-52

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PMID: 11961111

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