Methodological improvements to fluorescence microscopy have confirmed the presence of assemblies of G protein-coupled receptor (GPCRs) ― the largest protein family ― in isolated mammary gland for the first time in a study published online this week in Nature Chemical Biology. Since GPCRs play a central role in cellular communication and a number of diseases and disease treatments, understanding the proximity of GPCRs in the physiological environment will provide important new insights for therapy.
The presence of GPCR assemblies in tissue was previously unconfirmed due to the difficulty of showing them in a native environment. Thierry Durroux, Jean-Philippe Pin, Bernard Mouillac and colleagues now report improved fluorescently labeled ligands allowed the detection of several receptor dimers in the mammary gland tissues. The authors used a microscopic technique that allows observation of the pairing of fluorescent molecules at specific time points. This methodology allows studies on GPCRs to be carried out in tissues, and does not require transgenic expression of GPCRs.