G protein-coupled receptor trafficking and signaling: new insights into the enteric nervous system

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G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) are essential for the neurogenic control of gastrointestinal (GI) function and are important and emerging therapeutic targets in the gut. Detailed knowledge of both the distribution and functional expression of GPCRs in the enteric nervous system (ENS) is critical toward advancing our understanding of how these receptors contribute to GI function during physiological and pathophysiological states. Equally important, but less well defined, is the complex relationship between receptor expression, ligand binding, signaling, and trafficking within enteric neurons. Neuronal GPCRs are internalized following exposure to agonists and under pathological conditions, such as intestinal inflammation. However, the relationship between the intracellular distribution of GPCRs and their signaling outputs in this setting remains a "black box". This review will briefly summarize current knowledge of agonist-evoked GPCR trafficking and location-specific signaling in the ENS and identifies key areas where future research could be focused. Greater understanding of the cellular and molecular mechanisms involved in regulating GPCR signaling in the ENS will provide new insights into GI function and may open novel avenues for therapeutic targeting of GPCRs for the treatment of digestive disorders.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)G446-G452
Number of pages7
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Gastrointestinal and Liver Physiology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2019


  • endocytosis
  • enteric nervous system
  • GPCR, location-specific signaling
  • receptor trafficking

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