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The glucagon-like peptide-1 receptor (GLP-1R) is a class B G protein-coupled receptor involved in the regulation of blood glucose levels and food intake. Stabilized agonists targeting GLP-1R are used in the treatment of type 2 diabetes and have recently become a breakthrough obesity therapy. Here, we revisit a classic article in Diabetes by Thorens et al. that described the cloning, sequencing, and functional expression of the human GLP-1R. The article also demonstrated that exendin4(1-39) was a full agonist of the human GLP-1R whereas exendin4(9-39) was a full antagonist. We discuss how the knowledge imparted by these studies has gone on to inform multiple strands of GLP-1R biology over the past three decades, including pharmacology, signaling, human genetics, structural biology, and chemical biology.

Original publication




Journal article



Publication Date





1027 - 1031


Humans, Glucagon-Like Peptide-1 Receptor, Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2, Exenatide, Hypoglycemic Agents, Animals, Peptides