Molecular basis for activation and biased signaling at the thrombin-activated GPCR proteinase activated receptor-4 (PAR4)
Journal of Biological Chemistry
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© 2020 Thibeault et al. Proteinase-activated receptor (PAR)-4 is a member of the proteolytically-activated PAR family of G-protein– coupled receptors (GPCR) that represents an important target in the development of anti-platelet therapeutics. PARs are activated by proteolytic cleavage of their receptor N terminus by enzymes such as thrombin, trypsin, and cathepsin-G. This reveals the receptor-activating motif, termed the tethered ligand that binds intramolecularly to the receptor and triggers signaling. However, PARs are also activated by exogenous application of synthetic peptides derived from the tethered-ligand sequence. To better understand the molecular basis for PAR4-dependent signaling, we examined PAR4-signaling responses to a peptide library derived from the canonical PAR4-agonist peptide, AYPGKF-NH2, and we monitored activation of the Gαq/11-coupled calcium-signaling pathway, β-arrestin recruitment, and mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) pathway activation. We identified peptides that are poor activators of PAR4-dependent calcium signaling but were fully competent in recruiting β-arrestin-1 and -2. Peptides that were unable to stimulate PAR4-dependent calcium signaling could not trigger MAPK activation. Using in silico docking and site-directed mutagenesis, we identified Asp230 in the extracellular loop-2 as being critical for PAR4 activation by both agonist peptide and the tethered ligand. Probing the consequence of biased signaling on platelet activation, we found that a peptide that cannot activate calcium signaling fails to cause platelet aggregation, whereas a peptide that is able to stimulate calcium signaling and is more potent for β-arrestin recruitment triggered greater levels of platelet aggregation compared with the canonical PAR4 agonist peptide. These findings uncover molecular determinants critical for agonist binding and biased signaling through PAR4.