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Lyso-PS (lyso-phosphatidylserine) has been shown to activate the G(i/o)-protein-coupled receptor GPR34. Since in vitro and in vivo studies provided controversial results in assigning lyso-PS as the endogenous agonist for GPR34, we investigated the evolutionary conservation of agonist specificity in more detail. Except for some fish GPR34 subtypes, lyso-PS has no or very weak agonistic activity at most vertebrate GPR34 orthologues investigated. Using chimaeras we identified single positions in the second extracellular loop and the transmembrane helix 5 of carp subtype 2a that, if transferred to the human orthologue, enabled lyso-PS to activate the human GPR34. Significant improvement of agonist efficacy by changing only a few positions strongly argues against the hypothesis that nature optimized GPR34 as the receptor for lyso-PS. Phylogenetic analysis revealed several positions in some fish GPR34 orthologues which are under positive selection. These structural changes may indicate functional specification of these orthologues which can explain the species- and subtype-specific pharmacology of lyso-PS. Furthermore, we identified aminoethyl-carbamoyl ATP as an antagonist of carp GPR34, indicating ligand promiscuity with non-lipid compounds. The results of the present study suggest that lyso-PS has only a random agonistic activity at some GPR34 orthologues and the search for the endogenous agonist should consider additional chemical entities.


Lars Ritscher, Eva Engemaier, Claudia Stäubert, Ines Liebscher, Philipp Schmidt, Thomas Hermsdorf, Holger Römpler, Angela Schulz, Torsten Schöneberg. The ligand specificity of the G-protein-coupled receptor GPR34. The Biochemical journal. 2012 May 1;443(3):841-50

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PMID: 22348703

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