Wiley InterScience Backfile Collection 1832-2000
Chemistry and Pharmacology
Investigation of receptor - ligand interactions remains an inexhaustible challenge for chemists and biologists. Structural exploration of biological receptors is the starting point for a better understanding of how they function. Photoaffinity labeling is a biochemical approach to identify and characterize receptors targeting further structural investigations. The primary structure of a receptor protein was typically obtained by reverse genetics after exhaustive purification and sequencing of the N-terminal peptide, which allowed the design of the corresponding oligonucleotide probes. Synthesis of these oligonucleotide probes then led to identification of cDNA clones by hybridization. Following this strategy, several membrane neurotransmitter receptors and constituent polypeptides, present in very small quantities in the central nervous system, were identified and their sequence deduced from the cDNA sequence. Since photoaffinity labeling implies the formation of a covalent bond between a radiolabeled ligand analogue and a receptor binding site, it becomes theoretically possible to isolate and sequence radiolabeled peptides and then synthesize the corresponding oligonucleotide probes. Photoaffinity labeling might avoid the critical solubilization and purification steps of the classical approach. To our knowledge, no such example of primary structure determination based on photoaffinity labeling experiments has been reported. However, the extraordinary developments in gene cloning technologies, in particular homology cloning and expression cloning, have made this approach obsolete and raised the question of new perspectives for photoaffinity labeling technology. In this article we present an update on selected original developments, as well as new challenges for this method. Photoaffinity labeling not only gives access to structural elements but is also a potential tool for the investigation of functional aspects of biological receptors, for example their role in signal transduction mechanisms.
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