Brain receptor mosaics and their intramembrane receptor-receptor interactions: molecular integration in transmission and novel targets for drug Development

Kjell Fuxe, Daniel Marcellino, Diego Guidolin, Amina S. Woods, Luigi Agnati

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


The concept of intramembrane receptor-receptor interactions and evidence for their existence was introduced by Agnati and Fuxe in 1980/81 suggesting the existence of heteromerization of receptors. In 1982, they proposed the existence of aggregates of multiple receptors in the plasma membrane and coined the term receptor mosaics (RM). In this way, cell signaling becomes a branched process beginning at the level of receptor recognition at the plasma membrane where receptors can directly modify the ligand recognition and signaling capacity of the receptors within a RM. Receptor- receptor interactions in RM are classified as operating either with classical cooper- ativity, when consisting of homomers or heteromers of similar receptor subtypes having the same transmitter, or non-classical cooperativity, when consisting of heteromers. It has been shown that information processing within a RM depends not only on its receptor composition, but also on the topology and the order of receptor activation determined by the concentrations of the ligands and the receptor properties. The general function of RM has also been demonstrated to depend on allosteric regulators (e.g., homocysteine) of the receptor subtypes present. RM as integrative nodes for receptor-receptor interactions in conjunction with membrane associated proteins may form horizontal molecular networks in the plasma membrane coordinating the activity of multiple effector systems modulating the excitability and gene expression of the cells. The key role of electrostatic epitope-epitope interactions will be discussed for the formation of the RM. These interactions probably represent a general molecular mechanism for receptor-receptor interactions and, without a doubt, indicate a role for phosphorylation-dephosphorylation events in these interactions. The novel therapeutic aspects given by the RMs will be discussed in the frame of molecular neurology and psychiatry and combined drug therapy appears as the future way to go.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-25
Number of pages25
JournalJAMS Journal of Acupuncture and Meridian Studies
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • Altosteric mechanisms
  • G protein-coupled receptors
  • Integrative signaling
  • Neuropsychopftarmacology
  • Receptor heteromer
  • Receptor mosaic

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine
  • Complementary and alternative medicine
  • Medicine(all)


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