NIMH » Researchers Remedy the Puzzle of a Mind Receptor’s Activation


Analysis Spotlight

G protein-coupled receptors (additionally referred to as metabotropic receptors) are particular places on the floor of nerve cells, or neurons, that assist cells talk with one another. These receptors are activated when signaling molecules bind to them. Nonetheless, for some G protein-coupled receptors, no molecule able to turning on their signaling perform has been recognized.

GPR158 is a G protein-coupled receptor extremely expressed within the mind, particularly within the prefrontal cortex, which is liable for thought, planning, and emotion and is linked to psychological issues. Nonetheless, GPR158 shouldn’t be nicely understood, and a molecule that prompts it had not been recognized—till now.

Revolutionary new analysis, funded by the Nationwide Institute of Psychological Well being, recognized a molecule that binds to the GPR158 receptor and triggers its exercise. The examine, led by Kirill Martemyanov, Ph.D., of The Herbert Wertheim UF Scripps Institute for Biomedical Innovation and Know-how, confirmed that GPR158 is activated by glycine, a molecule that’s each a neurotransmitter (chemical messenger between neurons) and an amino acid (constructing block for proteins). The examine confirmed that glycine can enhance communication between neurons by interacting with the G protein-coupled receptor.

What did researchers already learn about GPR158?

A 2018 examine revealed a attainable function for GPR158 in psychological well being by exhibiting that it’s current at excessive ranges within the brains of individuals with despair and within the brains of mice uncovered to power stress.

In one other examine, the analysis workforce found a novel structural characteristic of the receptor: GPR158 has a site on its floor, known as a Cache area, that may act as a “docking station” for amino acids. Based mostly on this discovery, the researchers suspected an amino acid would possibly remedy the puzzle of GPR158’s activation. However it was unknown which, if any, amino acid binds this distinctive receptor.

What did this new examine reveal about GPR158?

The present examine builds on a big physique of analysis by Martemyanov and colleagues analyzing GPR158. Utilizing the newest genomic know-how, the researchers first examined a library of amino acids and located that solely glycine impacted GPR158’s mobile signaling.

They then verified that GPR158 is a direct goal of glycine by performing a sequence of experiments becoming glycine into the binding pocket fashioned by the Cache area recognized within the earlier examine. This step confirmed that GPR158 is a receptor for glycine, and glycine prompts the receptor particularly by binding to its Cache area.

Having recognized glycine as a molecule able to turning on GPR158, the researchers utilized glycine on to human cells to see what would occur. In cells expressing GPR158, glycine considerably decreased their mobile signaling. The researchers noticed this glycine-induced discount throughout a number of cell varieties—however not if the cells lacked GPR158. The outcomes confirmed that glycine binds to GPR158 and impacts mobile signaling.

Schematic representation showing glycine acting on GPR158 via the RGS7-Gβ5 complex to alter cellular signaling.

Schematic illustration of proposed mechanism of glycine on the metabotropic glycine receptor, mGlyR. Glycine acts on GPR158 through the RGS7-Gβ5 complicated to change mobile signaling. Courtesy of Martemyanov lab, The Herbert Wertheim UF Scripps Institute for Biomedical Innovation & Know-how.

In one other set of experiments, the researchers explored how glycine acts on GPR158 to have an effect on neuronal exercise (the firing of nerve cells that permits them to speak). They discovered that glycine didn’t cut back the exercise of GPR158 itself. As an alternative, glycine diminished the actions of a signaling complicated related to the receptor referred to as RGS7-Gβ5. RGS7-Gβ5 acts as a robust brake on mobile signaling. Thus, in a real-world instance of two negatives making a constructive consequence, glycine decreased the exercise of the RGS7-Gβ5 complicated, which already diminished mobile signaling. Because of this, neuronal firing elevated.

Final, the researchers used mice to look at how glycine’s results on GPR158 would possibly influence the exercise of neurons in areas of the prefrontal cortex the place the receptor is extensively expressed. As anticipated, glycine performing on GPR158 through the RGS7-Gβ5 complicated had an excitatory impact on neuronal exercise, rising neurons’ firing. In distinction, glycine didn’t alter the exercise of cortical neurons missing the receptor.

What did this examine reveal about glycine?

The invention that glycine binds to GPR158 means we higher perceive how the receptor works. Given GPR158’s newly found binding molecule, the researchers have proposed renaming it mGlyR, quick for metabotropic glycine receptor.

Not solely does this examine add to our information of GPR158’s distinctive properties, but it surely additionally reveals necessary details about glycine. Glycine is taken into account an inhibitory neurotransmitter, which means it reduces the flexibility of neurons to ship chemical messages to different cells. In finishing up this inhibitory motion, glycine had been thought to bind solely to ion channels—websites on the floor of cells that permit charged particles referred to as ions to maneuver out and in of the cell.

The present examine upends our understanding of glycine. The discovering that glycine binds to a G protein-coupled receptor in GPR158 reveals a brand new approach that glycine acts within the physique. Furthermore, when glycine binds to the G protein-coupled receptor, it has an excitatory impact that helps neurons ship messages to different cells, revealing a brand new approach that neuronal exercise is altered within the mind.

Why does this examine matter?

This examine is very impactful as a result of it reveals a number of new findings:  

  • Glycine is the primary (and solely) transmitter for GPR158, which didn’t have an recognized signaling molecule till now.
  • GPR158 is the primary G protein-coupled receptor for glycine, which had beforehand been proven to bind solely to ion channels.
  • Glycine has an excitatory impact on the G protein-coupled receptor, which contrasts its inhibitory impact on ion channels.

The findings spotlight the significance of GPR158 as a receptor able to altering exercise in an space of the mind necessary for understanding and treating psychological issues. This discovery presents a possible new goal for growing improved remedies for psychological issues like anxiousness and despair.


Laboute, T., Zucca, S., Holcomb, M., Patil, D. N., Garza, C., Wheatley, B. A., Roy, R. N., Forli, S., & Martemyanov, Okay. A. (2023). Orphan receptor GPR158 serves as a metabotropic glycine receptor: mGlyR. Science, 379(6639), 1352–1358.


MH105482, GM069832



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