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Molecular basis for the evolved instability of a human G-protein coupled receptor

Citation

Chamness, Laura et al. (2021), Molecular basis for the evolved instability of a human G-protein coupled receptor, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.dncjsxkvs

Abstract

Membrane proteins are prone to misfolding and degradation. This is particularly true for mammalian forms of the gonadotropin-releasing hormone receptor (GnRHR). Although they function at the plasma membrane, mammalian GnRHRs accumulate within the secretory pathway. Their apparent instability is believed to have evolved through selection for attenuated GnRHR activity. Nevertheless, the molecular basis of this adaptation remains unclear. We show that adaptation coincides with a C-terminal truncation that compromises the translocon-mediated membrane integration of its seventh transmembrane domain (TM7). We also identify a series of polar residues in mammalian GnRHRs that compromise the membrane integration of TM2 and TM6. Reverting a lipid-exposed polar residue in TM6 to an ancestral hydrophobic residue restores expression with no impact on function. Evolutionary trends suggest variations in the polarity of this residue track with reproductive phenotypes. Our findings suggest that the marginal energetics of cotranslational folding can be exploited to tune membrane protein fitness.