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Computational Predictions of G Protein-Coupled Receptor Structures and Binding Sites


Kirkpatrick, Andrea (2015) Computational Predictions of G Protein-Coupled Receptor Structures and Binding Sites. Dissertation (Ph.D.), California Institute of Technology. doi:10.7907/Z9NG4NJG.


G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) are the largest family of proteins within the human genome. They consist of seven transmembrane (TM) helices, with a N-terminal region of varying length and structure on the extracellular side, and a C-terminus on the intracellular side. GPCRs are involved in transmitting extracellular signals to cells, and as such are crucial drug targets. Designing pharmaceuticals to target GPCRs is greatly aided by full-atom structural information of the proteins. In particular, the TM region of GPCRs is where small molecule ligands (much more bioavailable than peptide ligands) typically bind to the receptors. In recent years nearly thirty distinct GPCR TM regions have been crystallized. However, there are more than 1,000 GPCRs, leaving the vast majority of GPCRs with limited structural information. Additionally, GPCRs are known to exist in a myriad of conformational states in the body, rendering the static x-ray crystal structures an incomplete reflection of GPCR structures. In order to obtain an ensemble of GPCR structures, we have developed the GEnSeMBLE procedure to rapidly sample a large number of variations of GPCR helix rotations and tilts. The lowest energy GEnSeMBLE structures are then docked to small molecule ligands and optimized. The GPCR family consists of five subfamilies with little to no sequence homology between them: class A, B1, B2, C, and Frizzled/Taste2. Almost all of the GPCR crystal structures have been of class A GPCRs, and much is known about their conserved interactions and binding sites. In this work we particularly focus on class B1 GPCRs, and aim to understand that family’s interactions and binding sites both to small molecules and their native peptide ligands. Specifically, we predict the full atom structure and peptide binding site of the glucagon-like peptide receptor and the TM region and small molecule binding sites for eight other class B1 GPCRs: CALRL, CRFR1, GIPR, GLR, PACR, PTH1R, VIPR1, and VIPR2. Our class B1 work reveals multiple conserved interactions across the B1 subfamily as well as a consistent small molecule binding site centrally located in the TM bundle. Both the interactions and the binding sites are distinct from those seen in the more well-characterized class A GPCRs, and as such our work provides a strong starting point for drug design targeting class B1 proteins. We also predict the full structure of CXCR4 bound to a small molecule, a class A GPCR that was not closely related to any of the class A GPCRs at the time of the work.

Item Type:Thesis (Dissertation (Ph.D.))
Subject Keywords:GPCR; G-Protein Coupled Receptor; structure and binding site prediction
Degree Grantor:California Institute of Technology
Division:Chemistry and Chemical Engineering
Major Option:Chemistry
Thesis Availability:Public (worldwide access)
Research Advisor(s):
  • Goddard, William A., III
Thesis Committee:
  • Miller, Thomas F. (chair)
  • Mayo, Stephen L.
  • Dougherty, Dennis A.
  • Goddard, William A., III
Defense Date:10 December 2014
Non-Caltech Author Email:andrea.kirkpatrick155 (AT)
Funding AgencyGrant Number
Chemistry Graduate Program FellowshipUNSPECIFIED
Bing ScholarshipUNSPECIFIED
Materials and Process Simulation CenterUNSPECIFIED
Center for Catalytic Hydrocarbon FunctionalizationUNSPECIFIED
Record Number:CaltechTHESIS:04132015-220841374
Persistent URL:
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription Journal Article as ch. 3
Kirkpatrick, Andrea0000-0002-7212-7946
Default Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:8820
Deposited By: Andrea Kirkpatrick
Deposited On:15 Apr 2015 21:59
Last Modified:04 Oct 2019 00:07

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