Spatiotemporal Control of GPR37 Signaling and Its Behavioral Effects by Optogenetics

Wu Zheng, Jianhong Zhou, Yanan Luan, Jianglan Yang, Yuanyuan Ge, Muran Wang, Beibei Wu, Zhongnan Wu, Xingjun Chen, Fei Li, Zhihui Li, Serhii Vakal, Wei Guo, Jiang Fan Chen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


Despite the progress in deorphanization of G Protein-Coupled Receptors (GPCRs), ≈100 GPCRs are still classified as orphan receptors without identified endogenous ligands and with unknown physiological functions. The lack of endogenous ligands triggering GPCR signaling has hampered the study of orphan GPCR functions. Using GPR37 as an example, we provide here the first demonstration of the channelrhodopsin 2 (ChR2)-GPCR approach to bypass the endogenous ligand and selectively activate the orphan GPCR signal by optogenetics. Inspired by the opto-XR approach, we designed the ChR2-GPR37 chimera, in which the corresponding parts of GPR37 replaced the intracellular portions of ChR2. We showed that optogenetic activation of ChR2/opto-GPR37 elicited specific GPR37 signaling, as evidenced by reduced cAMP level, enhanced ERK phosphorylation and increased motor activity, confirming the specificity of opto-GPR37 signaling. Besides, optogenetic activation of opto-GPR37 uncovered novel aspects of GPR37 signaling (such as IP-3 signaling) and anxiety-related behavior. Optogenetic activation of opto-GPR37 permits the causal analysis of GPR37 activity in the defined cells and behavioral responses of freely moving animals. Importantly, given the evolutionarily conserved seven-helix transmembrane structures of ChR2 and orphan GPCRs, we propose that opto-GPR37 approach can be readily applied to other orphan GPCRs for their deorphanization in freely moving animals.
Original languageEnglish
JournalFrontiers in Molecular Neuroscience
Issue number95
Publication statusPublished - 28 Mar 2018
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • GPCRs
  • channelrhodopsin
  • opto-GPR37
  • optogenetics
  • orphan GPCRs


Dive into the research topics of 'Spatiotemporal Control of GPR37 Signaling and Its Behavioral Effects by Optogenetics'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this