Probing the Conformation States of Neurotensin Receptor 1 Variants by NMR Site-Directed Methyl Labeling

Inguna Goba, David Goricanec, Dominik Schum, Matthias Hillenbrand, Andreas Plückthun, Franz Hagn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) are key players in mediating signal transduction across the cell membrane. However, due to their intrinsic instability, many GPCRs are not suitable for structural investigations. Various approaches have been developed in recent years to remedy this situation, ranging from the use of more native membrane mimetics to protein-stabilization methods. The latter approach typically results in GPCRs that contain various numbers of mutations. However, probing the functionality of such variants by in vitro and in vivo assays is often time consuming. In addition, to validate the suitability of such GPCRs for structural investigations, an assessment of their conformation state is required. NMR spectroscopy has been proven to be suitable to probe the conformation state of GPCRs in solution. Here, by using chemical labeling with an isotope-labeled methyl probe, we show that the activity and the conformation state of stabilized neurotensin receptor 1 variants obtained from directed evolution can be efficiently assayed in 2D NMR experiments. This strategy enables the quantification of the active and inactive conformation states and the derivation of an estimation of the basal as well as agonist-induced activity of the receptor. Furthermore, this assay can be used as a readout when re-introducing agonist-dependent signaling into a highly stabilized, and thus rigidified, receptor by mutagenesis. This approach will be useful in cases where low production yields do not permit the addition of labeled compounds to the growth medium and where 1D NMR spectra of selectively 19F-labeled receptors are not sufficient to resolve signal overlap for a more detailed analysis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)139-146
Number of pages8
Issue number1
StatePublished - 5 Jan 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • GPCRs
  • NMR spectroscopy
  • dynamics
  • membrane
  • signaling


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