A general procedure for an alternative approach
G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) and their ligands are traditionally characterized by radioligand-binding experiments. These experiments yield excellent quantitative data, but have low temporal and spatial resolution. In addition, the use of radioligands presents safety concerns. Here we provide a general procedure for an alternative approach with high temporal and spatial resolution, based on Tb(+)-labeled fluorescent receptor ligands and time-resolved fluorescence resonance energy transfer (TR-FRET). This protocol and its design are detailed here for the parathyroid hormone receptor, a class B GPCR, and its fluorescently labeled 34-amino acid peptide ligand, but it can be easily modified for other receptors and their appropriately labeled ligands. We discuss three protocol options that use Tb(+)-labeled fluorescent ligands: a time-resolved fluorescence separation option that works on native receptors but requires separation of bound and unbound ligand; a TR-FRET option using SNAP-tag-labeled receptors for high-throughput screening; and a TR-FRET option that uses fluorescently labeled antibodies directed against an epitope engineered into the Flag-labeled receptors’ N terminus. These protocol options can be used as standard procedures with very high signal-to-background ratios in order to characterize ligands and their receptors in living cells and in cell membranes via straightforward plate-reader measurements.
Nat Protoc. 2013;8(7):1307-20.