An insight into the activation mechanism of the calcatonin-gene-related peptide receptor

  • James Barwell

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


The calcitonin-gene- related peptide (CGRP) receptor is unique among G-protein coupled receptors (GPCRs) as it consists of at least three proteins: calcitonin receptor like receptor (CLR), receptor activity modifying protein (RAMP)1 and receptor component protein (RCP). An endogenous agonist for this curious receptor is aCGRP, which is a sensory nerve-derived peptide made up of 37 amino acids. aCGRP acts as a potent vasodilator having pronounced effects on arterioles and capillaries. Understanding the pharmacodynamics of the CGRP receptor may have pharmaceutical benefit as the receptor has been associated with the onset of migraines and implicated in Raynauds syndrome.
The primary aim of this thesis was to identify functionally important residues in the extracellular face of the CGRP receptor. Three areas of interest were selected including the extreme N-terminus of the CLR, extracellular loop 1 (ECL1) of the CLR and its associated transmembrane (TM) regions, and finally extracellular loop 3 (ECL3) of the CLR and its juxtamembrane regions. A site-directed mutagenesis (SDM) strategy was used to investigate these regions, primarily substituting the innate residues of CLR with alanine and assessing the mutation on multiple criteria including a functional cAMP assay, cell-surface expression, total expression, agonist-mediated internalisation and aCGRP binding. The results are interpreted and discussed taking into consideration contemporary concepts surrounding Secretin-like GPCRs. Moreover, the thesis also contains details of RAMP purification.
Overall the thesis provides novel data that furthers insight into the complex phenomenon of CGRP receptor activation. Site-directed mutants have been identified that affect aCGRP binding, receptor signal transduction, the CLR/RAMP1 interface and the integrity of the protein complex structure.
Date of AwardFeb 2010
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorDavid Poyner (Supervisor)


  • calcitonin receptor like receptor
  • extracellular loop
  • G-protein coupled receptors
  • receptor activity modifying protein
  • site-directed mutagenesis

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