The dopamine 2 receptor (D2R) is a Class A GPCR which is essential for signaling in the nervous system, and has been implicated in numerous illnesses. While there are over 50 currently approved drugs which act on D2R, the structure has never been determined in detail. Although crystallography has historically been difficult with GPCRs, in recent years many structures have been solved using lipidic cubic phase (LCP) crystallization techniques. Sample preparation for LCP crystallization typically requires optimization of genetic constructs, recombinant expression, and purification techniques in order to produce a sample with sufficient stability and homogeneity. This study compares several genetic constructs utilizing different promoters, fusion proteins, fusion positions, and truncations in order to determine a high quality construct for LCP crystallization of
D2R. All constructs were expressed using the Bac-to-bac baculovirus expression system, then extracted with n-Dodecyl-β-D-Maltoside (DDM) and purified using metal affinity chromatography. Samples were then tested for quantity, purity, and homogeneity using SDS-PAGE, western blot, and size-exclusion chromatography. High quality samples were chosen based on insect cell expression levels, purification yield, and stability estimated by the levels of homomeric protein relative to aggregated protein. A final construct was chosen with which to continue future studies in optimization of thermal stability and crystallization conditions. Future work on this project is required to produce a sample amenable to crystallization. Screening of ligands for co-crystallization,
thermostabilizing point mutations, and potentially optimization of extraction and purification techniques prior to crystallization trials. Solving the D2R structure will lead to an increased understanding of its signaling mechanism and the mechanisms of currently approved drugs, while also providing a basis for more effective structure-based drug design.