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The β2-adrenergic receptor associates with CXCR4 multimers in human cancer cells

Published date

April 2, 2024


"While the existence and functional role of class C G-protein-coupled receptors (GPCR) dimers is well established, there is still a lack of consensus regarding class A and B GPCR multimerization. This lack of consensus is largely due to the inherent challenges of demonstrating the presence of multimeric receptor complexes in a physiologically relevant cellular context. The C-X-C motif chemokine receptor 4 (CXCR4) is a class A GPCR that is a promising target of anticancer therapy. Here, we investigated the potential of CXCR4 to form multimeric complexes with other GPCRs and characterized the relative size of the complexes in a live-cell environment. Using a bimolecular fluorescence complementation (BiFC) assay, we identified the β2 adrenergic receptor (β2AR) as an interaction partner. To investigate the molecular scale details of CXCR4-β2AR interactions, we used a time-resolved fluorescence spectroscopy method called pulsed-interleaved excitation fluorescence cross-correlation spectroscopy (PIE-FCCS). PIE-FCCS can resolve membrane protein density, diffusion, and multimerization state in live cells at physiological expression levels. We probed CXCR4 and β2AR homo- and heteromultimerization in model cell lines and found that CXCR4 assembles into multimeric complexes larger than dimers in MDA-MB-231 human breast cancer cells and in HCC4006 human lung cancer cells. We also found that β2AR associates with CXCR4 multimers in MDA-MB-231 and HCC4006 cells to a higher degree than in COS-7 and CHO cells and in a ligand-dependent manner. These results suggest that CXCR4-β2AR heteromers are present in human cancer cells and that GPCR multimerization is significantly affected by the plasma membrane environment."

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