Luigi F. Agnati, Diego Guidolin, Chiara Cervetto, Dasiel O. Borroto-Escuela, Kjell Fuxe
September 29, 2015
Intercellular and intracellular communication processes consist of signals and recognition/decoding apparatuses of these signals. In humans, the G protein-coupled receptor (GPCR) family represents the largest family of cell surface receptors. More than 30 years ago, it has been proposed that GPCR could form dimers or higher-order oligomers (receptor mosaics [RMs] at the plasma membrane level and receptor-receptor interactions [RRIs] have been proposed as a new integrative mechanism for chemical signals impinging on cell plasma membranes). The basic phenomena involved in RRIs are allostery and cooperativity of membrane receptors, and the present paper provides basic information concerning their relevance for the integrative functions of RMs. In this context, the possible role of iso-receptor RM is discussed (with a special focus on dopamine receptor subtypes and on some of the RMs they form with other dopamine iso-receptors), and it is proposed that two types of cooperativity, namely, homotropic and heterotropic cooperativity, could allow distinguishing two types of functionally different RMs. From a general point of view, the presence of iso-receptors and their topological organization within RMs allow the use of a reduced number of signals for the intercellular communication processes, since the target cells can recognize and decode the same signal in different ways. This theoretical aspect is further analyzed here by means of an analogy with artificial information systems. Thus, it is suggested that the ‘multiplexer’ and ‘demultiplexer’ concepts could, at least in part, model the role of RMs formed by iso-receptors in the information handling by the cell.