Orphan G protein-coupled receptors: the ongoing search for a home

Amie Jobe, Ranjit Vijayan

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) make up the largest receptor superfamily, accounting for 4% of protein-coding genes. Despite the prevalence of such transmembrane receptors, a significant number remain orphans, lacking identified endogenous ligands. Since their conception, the reverse pharmacology approach has been used to characterize such receptors. However, the multifaceted and nuanced nature of GPCR signaling poses a great challenge to their pharmacological elucidation. Considering their therapeutic relevance, the search for native orphan GPCR ligands continues. Despite limited structural input in terms of 3D crystallized structures, with advances in machine-learning approaches, there has been great progress with respect to accurate ligand prediction. Though such an approach proves valuable given that ligand scarcity is the greatest hurdle to orphan GPCR deorphanization, the future pairings of the remaining orphan GPCRs may not necessarily take a one-size-fits-all approach but should be more comprehensive in accounting for numerous nuanced possibilities to cover the full spectrum of GPCR signaling.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1349097
JournalFrontiers in Pharmacology
Publication statusPublished - 2024


  • 7TM receptors
  • GPCR deorphanization
  • GPCRs
  • orphan receptors
  • seven transmembrane receptors

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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