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G-protein coupled receptors (GPCRs)

Trainee Achievements

G-protein coupled receptors (GPCRs)

Mike Tomasini, trainee, had a 6-wk internship at the California Institute of Technology in the lab of Dr. Bill Goddard. His work involved G-protein coupled receptors (GPCRs), proteins consisting of 7 alpha-helical regions spanning the cell membrane of all cells. Because of their involvement in many signal transduction pathways GPCRs are a likely target for many pharmaceuticals. It is estimated that GPCRs account for ~ 40% of all prescription drugs on the market. The GPCR Mike worked on is the human taste receptor TAS2R38, which recognizes bitter stimulants, the classical one being phenylthiocarbamide (PTC). Oddly enough, TAS2R38 tastes extremely bitter to approximately 70% of the population while virtually tasteless for the other 30%. This is the result of 3 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) present in the Tas2R38 gene. Determining the structure of Tas2R38 will shed light on the different phenotypes that exist with the Tas2R38 human taste receptor.