Agonist binding to GPCRs causes rapid phosphorylation of the activated receptors by GPCR kinases. This process promotes the recruitment of members of the arrestin protein family (-arrestin-1 and -2) to the activated receptors, disrupting receptor/G protein coupling and promoting GPCR internalization by targeting the receptors to clathrin-coated pits. However, during the past 10-15 years, many studies have demonstrated that -arrestins can also act as signaling molecules in their own right. This observation is not only of theoretical interest but also of potential clinical relevance. During the past few years, DREADDs (designer receptors exclusively activated by designer drug) have emerged as powerful novel chemogenetic tools to study the physiological relevance of signaling pathways activated by different functional classes of GPCRs. Structurally, DREADDs represent mutant muscarinic receptors that can be activated by clozapine-N-oxide (CNO), an otherwise pharmacologically inert agent, with high potency and efficacy. Importantly, these new designer receptors cannot be activated by acetylcholine, the endogenous muscarinic receptor agonist. Consistent with the GPCR-like properties of DREADDs, we recently demonstrated that an M3 muscarinic receptor (M3R)-based DREADD does not only activate G proteins of the Gq family but can also interact with beta-arrestin-1 and -2 and trigger beta-arrestin-dependent downstream signaling. Taken together, these findings support the concept that the physiological outcome of activating a specific GPCR (or DREADD) in a particular tissue or cell type represents an integrated response caused by the activation of both G protein- and beta-arrestin-dependent signaling pathways. To gain insight into the physiological relevance of these two distinct GPCR signaling branches, it is important to assess the relative contribution of G protein- and beta-arrestin-dependent signaling to a particular tissue response. To shed light on this issue, we recently generated an M3R-based -arrestin-biased DREADD (Nakajima et al., 2015) as well as an M3R-based Gq/11-biased DREADD that lacks the ability to interact with beta-arrestins (Hu et al., 2016). We showed that this latter DREADD is active in vivo and that cell type-selective expression of the new designer receptors can lead to novel insights into the physiological roles of G protein- vs. beta-arrestin-dependent signaling. These functionally biased DREADDs represent powerful new tools to study the physiological relevance of Gq/11- vs. beta-arrestin-dependent signaling cascades in distinct tissues and cell types. Importantly, such information could be exploited for developing novel classes of clinically useful drugs, including G protein- or beta-arrestin-biased agonists. (Hu J, Stern M, Gimenez LE, Wanka L, Zhu L, Rossi M, Meister J, Inoue A, Beck-Sickinger AG, Gurevich VV, Wess J. A G protein-biased designer G protein-coupled receptor useful for studying the physiological relevance of Gq/11-dependent signaling pathways. J Biol Chem 291, 7809-20, 2016;paper of the week). Review: Nakajima K, Gimenea LE, Gurevich VV, Wess J. Design and analysis of an arrestin-biased DREADD. In: Designer Receptors Exclusively Activated by Designer Drugs, Neuromethods Series, Book 108, ed. G. Thiel, Springer Science + Business Media, New York, NY, pp. 29-48, 2015. ==

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Wess, Jürgen (2016) Use of Designer G Protein-Coupled Receptors to Dissect Metabolic Pathways. Trends Endocrinol Metab 27:600-603
Hu, Jianxin; Stern, Matthew; Gimenez, Luis E et al. (2016) A G Protein-biased Designer G Protein-coupled Receptor Useful for Studying the Physiological Relevance of Gq/11-dependent Signaling Pathways. J Biol Chem 291:7809-20
Kruse, Andrew C; Kobilka, Brian K; Gautam, Dinesh et al. (2014) Muscarinic acetylcholine receptors: novel opportunities for drug development. Nat Rev Drug Discov 13:549-60
Kruse, Andrew C; Hu, Jianxin; Kobilka, Brian K et al. (2014) Muscarinic acetylcholine receptor X-ray structures: potential implications for drug development. Curr Opin Pharmacol 16:24-30
Kruse, Andrew C; Li, Jianhua; Hu, Jianxin et al. (2014) Novel insights into M3 muscarinic acetylcholine receptor physiology and structure. J Mol Neurosci 53:316-23
Hu, Jianxin; Hu, Kelly; Liu, Tong et al. (2013) Novel structural and functional insights into M3 muscarinic receptor dimer/oligomer formation. J Biol Chem 288:34777-90
Kruse, Andrew C; Ring, Aaron M; Manglik, Aashish et al. (2013) Activation and allosteric modulation of a muscarinic acetylcholine receptor. Nature 504:101-6
Wess, Jürgen; Nakajima, Kenichiro; Jain, Shalini (2013) Novel designer receptors to probe GPCR signaling and physiology. Trends Pharmacol Sci 34:385-92
Kruse, Andrew C; Weiss, Dahlia R; Rossi, Mario et al. (2013) Muscarinic receptors as model targets and antitargets for structure-based ligand discovery. Mol Pharmacol 84:528-40
Hu, Jianxin; Thor, Doreen; Zhou, Yaru et al. (2012) Structural aspects of Mýýý muscarinic acetylcholine receptor dimer formation and activation. FASEB J 26:604-16

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