Mechanism of sensitivity modulation in the calcium-sensing receptor via electrostatic tuning

Michael R. Schamber, Reza Vafabakhsh*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Transfer of information across membranes is fundamental to the function of all organisms and is primarily initiated by transmembrane receptors. For many receptors, how ligand sensitivity is fine-tuned and how disease associated mutations modulate receptor conformation to allosterically affect receptor sensitivity are unknown. Here we map the activation of the calcium-sensing receptor (CaSR) - a dimeric class C G protein-coupled receptor (GPCR) and responsible for maintaining extracellular calcium in vertebrates. We show that CaSR undergoes unique conformational rearrangements compared to other class C GPCRs owing to specific structural features. Moreover, by analyzing disease associated mutations, we uncover a large permissiveness in the architecture of the extracellular domain of CaSR, with dynamics- and not specific receptor topology- determining the effect of a mutation. We show a structural hub at the dimer interface allosterically controls CaSR activation via focused electrostatic repulsion. Changes in the surface charge distribution of this hub, which is highly variable between organisms, finely tune CaSR sensitivity. This is potentially a general tuning mechanism for other dimeric receptors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number2194
JournalNature communications
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Physics and Astronomy(all)


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