Heterodimerization of the angiotensin II AT1 receptor with the receptor for the vasodepressor bradykinin, B2R, is known to sensitize the AT1-stimulated response of hypertensive individuals in vivo. To analyze features of that prototypic receptor heterodimer in vitro, we established a new method that uses fluorescence resonance energy transfer (FRET) and applies for the first time AT1-Cerulean as a FRET donor. The Cerulean variant of the green fluorescent protein as donor fluorophore was fused to the C-terminus of AT1, and the enhanced yellow fluorescent protein (EYFP) as acceptor fluorophore was fused to B2R. In contrast to AT1-EGFP, the AT1-Cerulean fusion protein was retained intracellularly. To facilitate cell surface delivery of AT1-Cerulean, a cleavable signal sequence was fused to the receptor's amino terminus. The plasma membrane-localized AT1-Cerulean resembled the native AT1 receptor regarding ligand binding and receptor activation. A high FRET efficiency of 24.7% between membrane-localized AT1-Cerulean and B2R-EYFP was observed with intact, non-stimulated cells. Confocal FRET microscopy further revealed that the AT1/B2 receptor heterodimer was functionally coupled to receptor desensitization mechanisms because activation of the AT1-Cerulean/B2R-EYFP heterodimer with a single agonist triggered the co-internalization of AT1/B2R. Receptor co-internalization was sensitive to inhibition of G protein-coupled receptor kinases, GRKs, as evidenced by a GRK-specific peptide inhibitor. In agreement with efficient AT1/B2R heterodimerization, confocal FRET imaging of co-enriched receptor proteins immobilized on agarose beads also detected a high FRET efficiency of 24.0%. Taken together confocal FRET imaging revealed efficient heterodimerization of co-enriched and cellular AT1/B2R, and GRK-dependent co-internalization of the AT1/B2R heterodimer. © 2011 Elsevier Inc.
Quitterer, U., Pohl, A., Langer, A., Koller, S., & AbdAlla, S. (2011). A cleavable signal peptide enhances cell surface delivery and heterodimerization of Cerulean-tagged angiotensin II AT1 and bradykinin B2 receptor. Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications, 409(3), 544–549. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bbrc.2011.05.041