Back to Archived Journals » Journal of Receptor, Ligand and Channel Research » Volume 3

Ligand competition assays indicate allosterism and insufficiency of the ternary complex model

Authors Qunaibi E, Barber R

Published 14 July 2010 Volume 2010:3 Pages 73—86


Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 3

Eyad Qunaibi1, Roger Barber2

1Formerly (during the time of the study): School of Pharmacy, University of Houston, Houston, TX. At present: School of Pharmacy, Applied Sciences University, Amman, Jordan; 2Formerly (during the time of the study): Department of Integrative Biology and Pharmacology, University of Texas/Houston, Houston, TX, USA

Background: Many researchers have tried to correlate characteristics of ligand binding at G-protein–coupled receptor (GPCR) with ligand efficacy. The ternary complex model (TCM) is the traditional model for explaining the equilibrium of agonist-GPCR-G-protein interaction, and the effect of this interaction on agonist efficacy. However, no consistent correlation has been proven for various binding-efficacy data, so several extensions of the model have been proposed. These extensions are of descriptive value but their validity cannot be verified by binding-efficacy correlations. Therefore, we developed a novel approach to validate the TCM and its extensions.

Methods: We simulated the predictions of the TCM for relationships within binding parameters. According to the TCM, an increase in the difference between high and low agonist affinities for a receptor (ie, greater KL/KH) should be accompanied by stability or an increase in the fraction of receptors bound to the agonist with high affinity (RH). To validate these predictions we performed ligand competition experiments for a set of ß2-adrenergic receptor (AR) agonists and analyzed the resulting binding data as well as data taken from relevant literature.

Results: No smooth relationship exists between RH and KL/KH in our or others’ data, indicating the insufficiency of the TCM and its extensions. We introduce the allosteric modulators model as an alternative.

Conclusions: To our knowledge, this is the first paper in which insufficiency of the TCM and its extensions based on binding data are shown, and the first in which the presence of allosteric modulators of ligand affinity is proven to be a necessity for explaining binding data at GPCRs.

Keywords: G-protein-coupled receptor, ternary complex model, allosteric modulators model, fraction of high affinity receptors, ratio of high and low receptor affinities for agonist, binding-functional correlations

Creative Commons License This work is published and licensed by Dove Medical Press Limited. The full terms of this license are available at and incorporate the Creative Commons Attribution - Non Commercial (unported, v3.0) License. By accessing the work you hereby accept the Terms. Non-commercial uses of the work are permitted without any further permission from Dove Medical Press Limited, provided the work is properly attributed. For permission for commercial use of this work, please see paragraphs 4.2 and 5 of our Terms.