High-affinity agonist binding to C5aR results from a cooperative two-site binding mechanism

BioRxiv : the Preprint Server for Biology
A. DumitruDavid Alsteens


A current challenge in the field of life sciences is to decipher, in their native environment, the functional activation of cell surface receptors upon binding of complex ligands. Lack of suitable nanoscopic methods has hampered our ability to meet this challenge in an experimental manner. Here, we use for the first time the interplay between atomic force microscopy, steered molecular dynamics and functional assays to elucidate the complex ligand-binding mechanism of C5a with the human G protein-coupled C5a receptor (C5aR). We have identified two independent binding sites acting in concert where the N-terminal C5aR serves as kinetic trap and the transmembrane domain as functional site. Our results corroborate the two-site binding model and clearly identify a cooperative effect between two binding sites within the C5aR. We anticipate that our methodology could be used for development and design of new therapeutic agents to negatively modulate C5aR activity.

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