Insights into the Basal Activity and Activation Mechanism of the β1 Adrenergic Receptor Using Native Mass Spectrometry

Agni F.M. Gavriilidou, Hanna Hunziker, Daniel Mayer, Ziva Vuckovic, Dmitry B. Veprintsev, Renato Zenobi

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12 Citations (Scopus)


In the absence of orthosteric ligands, most G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) exist in an equilibrium of different conformational states. This equilibrium is shifted by an agonist towards the active state or by an inverse agonist towards the inactive state. The basal activity of the receptor, and its ability to activate intracellular signaling pathways, is defined by the probability that a fraction of the receptor adopts the active state in the absence of ligand. Despite breakthroughs in native MS of membrane proteins, GPCR-transducing complexes have not been studied by this approach until very recently. Here, we investigated different conformational states of the turkey β1 adrenergic receptor (tβ1AR) in complex with two transducing partners: a G protein mimicking nanobody, Nb80, and an engineered truncated Gs protein (miniG s ), in the presence of the full agonist isoprenaline by native MS. Interestingly, complex formation with both transducing partners was also observed in the absence of agonist, and allowed us to quantify basal activity of tβ1AR. We followed the stepwise disassembly of the transducing complexes by increasing the concentration of the inverse agonist S32212 in the presence of a constant concentration of isoprenaline. This allowed us to determine the relative binding affinity of S32212 in comparison to isoprenaline by native MS. Our approach provides a fast and sensitive way to detect complexes, study their stability in the presence of different ligands, and determine relative ligand affinities. Native mass spectrometry thus has the potential to become a useful tool to screen for orthosteric and allosteric GPCR drugs. [Figure not available: see fulltext.].

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)529-537
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of the American Society for Mass Spectrometry
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 15 Mar 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • G-coupled protein receptors
  • Native electrospray ionization mass spectrometry

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