The journal of physical chemistry. B 2017 02 09121(7) 1466-1474 doi 10.1021/acs.jpcb.6b10969
The role of dimerization and oligomerization of G-protein-coupled receptors in their signal transduction is highly controversial. Delineating this issue can greatly facilitate rational drug design. With single-molecule imaging, we show that chemokine receptor CXCR4 exists mainly as a monomer in normal mammalian living cells and forms dimers and higher-order oligomers at a high expression level, such as in cancer cells. Chemotaxis tests demonstrate that the signal transduction activity of CXCR4 does not depend only on its expression level, indicating a close relation with the oligomeric status of CXCR4. Moreover, binding ligands can effectively upregulate or downregulate the oligomeric level of CXCR4, which suggests that binding ligands may realize their pivotal roles by regulating the oligomeric status of CXCR4 rather than by simply inducing conformational changes.