Scientists Trace Origin and Evolution of GPCR Kinases

20 03 2012

G protein-coupled receptor (GPCR) kinases (GRKs) are important in regulating many signaling pathways in the bodies of animals.  Both under and over regulation of GRKs has been implicated in a variety of human illnesses, including heart disease, Parkinson’s disease, and depression.

Reporting in an article published on March 19, in the online journal PLoS One (Public Library of Science One), a team of scientists from the United States has traced the origins and evolution of these kinases.  Based on their study, the team concludes that GPCRs are very old, having appeared before the rise of Metazoa and expanded rapidly among true metazoans.  They hypothesize that this rapid expansion was the result of the need for quick signalling adjustments in fast-moving animals.  They note that this “lifestyle requires the ability to reset and re-engage the environmental sensors frequently, which calls for [a] rapid shut-off mechanism.  A dedicated system for quick deactivation of GPCR may have been one of the factors profoundly determining the metazoan lifestyle.”  For the full paper, see here.

G Protein-Coupled Receptor Kinase

Crystal structure of G protein coupled receptor kinase 1 (GRK1) bound to ATP (Credit: Image is from Wikipedia Commons and is by the Jmol development team. It is used under a GNU Free License.)

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