Creation of GPCR-based chemical sensors by directed evolution in yeast

Addison D. Ault, James R. Broach

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations


G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) form a class of biological chemical sensors with an enormous diversity in ligand binding and sensitivity. To explore structural aspects of ligand recognition, we subjected the human UDP-glucose receptor (P2Y14) functionally expressed in the yeast Saccharomyces to directed evolution. We sought to generate new receptor subtypes with ligand-binding properties that would be useful in the development of practical biosensors. Mutagenesis of the entire UDP-glucose receptor gene yielded receptors with increased activity but similar ligand specificities, while random mutagenesis of residues in the immediate vicinity of the ligand-binding pocket yielded mutants with altered ligand specificity. By first sensitizing the P2Y14 receptor and then redirecting ligand specificity, we were able to create mutant receptors suitable for a simple biosensor. Our results demonstrate the feasibility of altering receptor ligand-binding properties via a directed evolution strategy, using standard yeast genetic techniques. The novel receptor mutants can be used to detect chemical ligands in complex mixtures and to discriminate among chemically or stereochemically related compounds. Specifically, we demonstrate how engineered receptors can be applied in a pairwise manner to differentiate among several chemical analytes that would be indistinguishable with a single receptor. These experiments demonstrate the feasibility of a combinatorial approach to detector design based on the principles of olfaction.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-8
Number of pages8
JournalProtein Engineering, Design and Selection
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2006

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Medicine(all)


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