Research ArticleGPCR SIGNALING

Allosteric signaling through an mGlu2 and 5-HT2A heteromeric receptor complex and its potential contribution to schizophrenia

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Science Signaling  12 Jan 2016:
Vol. 9, Issue 410, pp. ra5
DOI: 10.1126/scisignal.aab0467

One to bind, one to signal

In addition to forming homodimers and heterodimers, G protein–coupled receptors (GPCRs) can form multiprotein complexes (heteromers) with other GPCRs. For example, the metabotropic glutamate receptor mGlu2, which couples to Gi/o proteins, and the 5-HT2A serotonin receptor, which couples to Gq/11, form heteromeric complexes. Moreno et al. performed a structure-function analysis to determine the signaling properties of these heteromers. Stimulation of cells expressing mGlu2–5-HT2A heteromers with an mGlu2 agonist led to Gq/11-dependent signaling by 5-HT2A, a response lacking in cells from 5-HT2A–deficient mice. Furthermore, the analysis of postmortem brains of schizophrenia patients indicated less mGlu2-dependent Gq/11 signaling compared to that in normal brains, suggesting that these heteromeric complexes may be dysregulated in disease.


Heterotrimeric guanine nucleotide–binding protein (G protein)–coupled receptors (GPCRs) can form multiprotein complexes (heteromers), which can alter the pharmacology and functions of the constituent receptors. Previous findings demonstrated that the Gq/11-coupled serotonin 5-HT2A receptor and the Gi/o-coupled metabotropic glutamate 2 (mGlu2) receptor—GPCRs that are involved in signaling alterations associated with psychosis—assemble into a heteromeric complex in the mammalian brain. In single-cell experiments with various mutant versions of the mGlu2 receptor, we showed that stimulation of cells expressing mGlu2–5-HT2A heteromers with an mGlu2 agonist led to activation of Gq/11 proteins by the 5-HT2A receptors. For this crosstalk to occur, one of the mGlu2 subunits had to couple to Gi/o proteins, and we determined the relative location of the Gi/o-contacting subunit within the mGlu2 homodimer of the heteromeric complex. Additionally, mGlu2-dependent activation of Gq/11, but not Gi/o, was reduced in the frontal cortex of 5-HT2A knockout mice and was reduced in the frontal cortex of postmortem brains from schizophrenic patients. These findings offer structural insights into this important target in molecular psychiatry.

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