Biophysical validation of serotonin 5-HT2A and 5-HT2C receptor interaction

Daniel E. Felsing, Noelle C. Anastasio, Joanna M. Miszkiel, Scott R. Gilbertson, John A. Allen, Kathryn A. Cunningham

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


The serotonin (5-HT) 5-HT2A receptor (5-HT2AR) and 5-HT2C receptor (5-HT2CR) in the central nervous system are implicated in a range of normal behaviors (e.g., appetite, sleep) and physiological functions (e.g., endocrine secretion) while dysfunctional 5-HT2AR and/or 5-HT2CR are implicated in neuropsychiatric disorders (e.g., addiction, obesity, schizophrenia). Preclinical studies suggest that the 5-HT2AR and 5-HT2CR may act in concert to regulate the neural bases for behavior. Here, we utilize three distinct biophysical and immunocytochem-istry-based approaches to identify and study this receptor complex in cultured cells. Employing a split luciferase complementation assay (LCA), we demonstrated that formation of the 5-HT2AR:5-HT2CR complex exists within 50 nm, increases proportionally to the 5-HT2CR:5-HT2AR protein expression ratio, and is specific to the receptor interaction and not due to random complementation of the luciferase fragments. Using a proximity ligation assay (PLA), we found that cells stably expressing both the 5-HT2AR and 5-HT2CR exhibit 5-HT2AR:5-HT2CR heteroreceptor complexes within 40 nm of each other. Lastly, bioluminescence resonance energy transfer (BRET) analyses indicates the formation of a specific and saturable 5-HT2AR:5-HT2CR interaction, suggesting that the 5-HT2AR and 5-HT2CR form a close interaction within 10 nm of each other in intact live cells. The bioengineered receptors generated for the LCA and the BRET exhibit 5-HT-mediated intracellular calcium signaling as seen for the native receptors. Taken together, this study validates a very close 5-HT2AR:5-HT2CR interaction in cultured cells.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere0203137
JournalPloS one
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • General


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