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Functional Characterization of the Venus Flytrap Domain of the Human TAS1R2 Sweet Taste Receptor

September 2022

"The human sweet taste receptor is a heterodimeric receptor composed of two distinct G-protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs), TAS1R2 and TAS1R3. The TAS1R2 and TAS1R3 subunits are members of a small family of class C GPCRs whose members share the same architecture, comprising a Venus Flytrap (VFT) module linked to the seven transmembrane domains (TMDs) by a short cysteine-rich region (CRR). The VFT module of TAS1R2 contains the primary binding site for most of the sweet-tasting compounds, including natural sugars and artificial and natural sweeteners. However, cellular assays, molecular docking and site-directed mutagenesis studies have revealed that the VFT, CRR and TMD of TAS1R3 interact with some sweeteners, including the sweet-tasting protein brazzein. The aim of this study was to better understand the contribution of TAS1R2-VFT in the binding of sweet stimuli. To achieve this, we heterologously expressed human TAS1R2-VFT (hTAS1R2-VFT) in Escherichia coli. Circular dichroism spectroscopic studies revealed that hTAS1R2-VFT was properly folded with evidence of secondary structures. Using size-exclusion chromatography coupled with light scattering, we found that hTAS1R2-VFT behaves as a monomer. Ligand binding quantified by intrinsic tryptophan fluorescence showed that hTAS1R2-VFT is capable of binding sweet stimuli with Kd values, in agreement with physiological detection. Furthermore, we investigated whether the impact of point mutations, already shown to have deleterious effects on cellular assays, could impact the ability of hTAS1R2-VFT to bind sweet ligands. As expected, the ligand affinities of hTAS1R2-VFT were drastically reduced through the introduction of single amino acid substitutions (D278A and E382A) known to abolish the response of the full-length TAS1R2/TAS1R3 receptor. This study demonstrates the feasibility of producing milligram quantities of hTAS1R2-VFT to further characterize the mechanism of binding interaction and perform structural studies."

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