Chloroethylclonidine binds irreversibly to exposed cysteines in the fifth membrane-spanning domain of the human alpha2A-adrenergic receptor
Marjamaki, A.; Pihlavisto, M.; Cockcroft, V.; Heinonen, P.; Savola, J.M.; Scheinin, M.
Molecular Pharmacology 53(3): 370-376
ISSN/ISBN: 0026-895X PMID: 9495800 DOI: 10.1124/mol.53.3.370
The alpha2-adrenergic receptors (alpha2-ARs) mediate signals to intracellular second messengers via guanine nucleotide binding proteins. Three human genes encoding alpha2-AR subtypes (alpha2A, alpha2B, alpha2C) have been cloned. Several chemical compounds display subtype differences in their binding and/or functional activity. Site-directed mutagenesis and molecular modeling are new tools with which to investigate the subtype selectivity of ligands. In this study, we introduce a new approach to mapping of the binding site crevice of the human alpha2A-AR. Based on a three-dimensional receptor model, we systematically mutated residues 197-201 and 204 in the fifth transmembrane domain of the human alpha2A-AR to cysteine. Chloroethylclonidine, an alkylating derivative of the alpha2-adrenergic agonist clonidine, binds irreversibly to alpha2A-ARs by forming a covalent bond with the sulfhydryl side chain of a cysteine residue exposed in the binding cavity, leading to inactivation of the receptor. Irreversible binding of chloroethylclonidine was used as a criterion for identifying introduced cysteine residues as being exposed in the binding cavity. The results supported a receptor model in which the fifth transmembrane domain is alpha-helical, with residues Val197, Ser200, Cys201, and Ser204 exposed in the binding pocket. Residues Ile198, Ser199, Ile202, and Gly203 face the lipid bilayer of the plasma membrane. This approach emerges as a powerful tool for structural characterization of the alpha2-ARs.