An update on the physiological and therapeutic relevance of GPCR oligomers

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

74 Scopus citations


The traditional view on GPCRs held that they function as single monomeric units composed of identical subunits. This notion was overturned by the discovery that GPCRs can form homo- and hetero-oligomers, some of which are obligatory, and can further assemble into receptor mosaics consisting of three or more protomers. Oligomerisation exerts significant impacts on receptor function and physiology, offering a platform for the diversification of receptor signalling, pharmacology, regulation, crosstalk, internalization and trafficking. Given their involvement in the modulation of crucial physiological processes, heteromers could constitute important therapeutic targets for a wide range of diseases, including schizophrenia, Parkinson's disease, substance abuse or obesity. This review aims at depicting the current developments in GPCR oligomerisation research, documenting various class A, B and C GPCR heteromers detected in vitro and in vivo using biochemical and biophysical approaches, as well as recently identified higher-order oligomeric complexes. It explores the current understanding of dimerization dynamics and the possible interaction interfaces that drive oligomerisation. Most importantly, it provides an inventory of the wide range of physiological processes and pathophysiological conditions to which GPCR oligomers contribute, surveying some of the oligomers that constitute potential drug targets. Finally, it delineates the efforts to develop novel classes of ligands that specifically target and tether to receptor oligomers instead of a single monomeric entity, thus ameliorating their ability to modulate GPCR function.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)303-327
Number of pages25
JournalPharmacological Research
StatePublished - Mar 1 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Drug targets
  • GPCRs
  • Molecular therapeutics
  • Pathophysiological processes
  • Receptor heteromers
  • Signalling pathways

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology


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