Direct demonstration of impaired functionality of a purified desensitized beta-adrenergic receptor in a reconstituted system

Science  24 Aug 1984:
Vol. 225, Issue 4664, pp. 837-840
DOI: 10.1126/science.6089331


Long-term exposure of various cell types to beta-adrenergic agonists such as isoproterenol leads to an attenuated responsiveness ("desensitization") of the adenylate cyclase system to further challenge with these agonists. The turkey erythrocyte model system was used earlier to show that a covalent modification of the receptor (phosphorylation) is associated with this process. The functionality of the "desensitized" beta-adrenergic receptor was assessed by implanting purified beta-adrenergic receptor preparations from control and desensitized turkey erythrocytes into phospholipid mixtures and then fusing them with receptor-deficient cells (Xenopus laevis erythrocytes). Desensitized beta-adrenergic receptors showed a 40 to 50 percent reduction in their ability to couple to the heterologous adenylate cyclase system, comparable to the reduction in their functionality observed in their original membrane environment. These results demonstrate the utility of recently developed receptor reconstitution techniques for assessing the functionality of purified receptors and show a direct link between a covalent modification of a membrane-bound receptor and its impaired functionality in a reconstituted system.