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The calcium-sensing receptor (CaSR) is a homodimeric G-protein-coupled receptor that signals via intracellular calcium (Ca2+i) mobilisation and phosphorylation of extracellular signal-regulated kinase 1/2 (ERK) to regulate extracellular calcium (Ca2+e) homeostasis. The central importance of the CaSR in Ca2+e homeostasis has been demonstrated by the identification of loss- or gain-of-function CaSR mutations that lead to familial hypocalciuric hypercalcaemia (FHH) or autosomal dominant hypocalcaemia (ADH), respectively. However, the mechanisms determining whether the CaSR signals via Ca2+i or ERK have not been established, and we hypothesised that some CaSR residues, which are the site of both loss- and gain-of-function mutations, may act as molecular switches to direct signalling through these pathways. An analysis of CaSR mutations identified in >300 hypercalcaemic and hypocalcaemic probands revealed five 'disease-switch' residues (Gln27, Asn178, Ser657, Ser820 and Thr828) that are affected by FHH and ADH mutations. Functional expression studies using HEK293 cells showed disease-switch residue mutations to commonly display signalling bias. For example, two FHH-associated mutations (p.Asn178Asp and p.Ser820Ala) impaired Ca2+i signalling without altering ERK phosphorylation. In contrast, an ADH-associated p.Ser657Cys mutation uncoupled signalling by leading to increased Ca2+i mobilization while decreasing ERK phosphorylation. Structural analysis of these five CaSR disease-switch residues together with four reported disease-switch residues revealed these residues to be located at conformationally active regions of the CaSR such as the extracellular dimer interface and transmembrane domain. Thus, our findings indicate that disease-switch residues are located at sites critical for CaSR activation and play a role in mediating signalling bias.

Original publication




Journal article


Hum Mol Genet

Publication Date





3720 - 3733


Amino Acid Sequence, Calcium Signaling, DNA Mutational Analysis, Gain of Function Mutation, HEK293 Cells, Humans, Hypercalciuria, Hypocalcemia, Hypoparathyroidism, Loss of Function Mutation, Protein Conformation, Receptors, Calcium-Sensing, Sequence Alignment, Signal Transduction