G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) are the largest class of eukaryotic cell-surface receptors and, over the last decade, it has become clear that they are capable of dimerisation. Whilst many biochemical and biophysical approaches have been used to study dimerisation, fluorescence techniques, including Förster resonance energy transfer and single molecule fluorescence, have been key players. Here we review recent contributions of fluorescence techniques to investigate GPCR dimers, including dimerisation in cell membranes and native tissues, the effect of ligand binding on dimerisation and the kinetics of dimer formation and dissociation. The challenges of studying multicomponent membrane protein systems have led to the development and refinement of many fluorescence assays, allowing the functional consequences of receptor dimerisation to be investigated and individual protein molecules to be imaged in the membranes of living cells. It is likely that the fluorescence techniques described here will be of use for investigating many other multicomponent membrane protein systems.
- G protein-coupled receptor
- single molecule fluorescence