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Phospholipid Scrambling by G Protein-Coupled Receptors

Rapid flip-flop of phospholipids across the two leaflets of biological membranes is crucial for many aspects of cellular life. The transport proteins that facilitate this process are classified as pump-like flippases and floppases and channel-like scramblases. Unexpectedly, Class A G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs), a large class of signaling proteins exemplified by the visual receptor rhodopsin and its apoprotein opsin, are constitutively active as scramblases in vitro. In liposomes, opsin scrambles lipids at a unitary rate of >100,000 per second. Atomistic molecular dynamics simulations of opsin in a lipid membrane reveal conformational transitions that expose a polar groove between transmembrane helices 6 and 7. This groove enables transbilayer lipid movement, conceptualized as the swiping of a credit card (lipid) through a card reader (GPCR). Conformational changes that facilitate scrambling are distinct from those associated with GPCR signaling. In this review, we discuss the physiological significance of GPCR scramblase activity and the modes of its regulation in cells. Expected final online publication date for the Annual Review of Biophysics, Volume 51 is May 2022. Please see for revised estimates.

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