Roughly one third of all FDA approved drugs target G protein coupled receptors (GPCRs), and this protein family holds myriad therapeutic opportunities yet to be discovered. GPCRs signal through allosteric changes in protein structure, and there is a large unmet need for effective, highly generalizable tools for conformational control of these receptors. ?This project has two Specific Aims, both of which employ computational protein design with Rosetta to build proteins ?de novo that bind and modulate GPCR conformation. Upon ligand binding and activation, GPCRs associate with and signal through G proteins. In the first Aim, we design proteins ?de novo which mimic the interaction domain of the endogenous G? protein subunit. Because the interaction between receptor and G? is highly conserved, the protein tools we propose to develop can be applied broadly. Synthetic genes encoding ?de novo G? mimetics have been expressed, and protein was purified from Escherichia coli.? Binding to several different detergent-solubilized GPCRs was demonstrated ?via pull-down and Western blotting. Functional G? mimetic proteins will be structurally characterized and used as templates for re-engineering a small suite of mimetics for all G? subtypes. Additionally, we propose to leverage the G? mimetics to enhance the expression and purification of GPCRs. To demonstrate this system, we will attempt to produce three different GPCRs for the first time: super conserved receptor expressed in brain 1-3. In the second aim, we will design disulfide constrained peptides to serve as agonists and antagonists for all structure-enabled family B GPCRs. This receptor family recognizes endogenous peptide ligands, and they are difficult to drug with small molecules. Structures that detail ligand recognition are available for 60% of family B receptors; we will use these as the basis for ?de novo design of high-affinity antagonist ligands based on disulfide-constrained peptides. We will then screen hundreds of thousands of rationally designed ?de novo peptides using yeast display, fluorescence activated cell sorting, and deep sequencing. Our unique design approach enables us to custom tailor the peptide topology so that we can readily convert our antagonists into high affinity agonists by extending the peptide N-terminus. The efficacy of designed ligands identified ?via the high-throughput screen will be assessed individually using a luciferase reporter assay for GPCR signaling. The research proposed here represents the first time that computational ?de novo protein design will be applied to control GPCR conformation. This work has the potential to create valuable tools to empower the GPCR research community and accelerate discovery of lead therapeutics for many diseases.

Public Health Relevance

G protein coupled receptors (GPCRs) are a critically important family of signaling proteins because they are drug targets for a wide variety of diseases. There is a vast, untapped therapeutic potential for these proteins, and the goal of this project is to develop new molecular tools and technologies to accelerate drug discovery and facilitate the production and investigation of GPCRs. To accomplish this, we leverage computational ?de novo protein design, which is a state-of-the-art engineering technology that has not previously been applied to GPCRs.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB)
Exploratory/Developmental Grants (R21)
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Macromolecular Structure and Function D Study Section (MSFD)
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Rampulla, David
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Institute for Protein Innovation, Inc.
United States
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