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Volume 7 (2007), Pages 1375-1392
Review Article

Cysteinyl-Leukotriene Receptors and Cellular Signals

Laboratory of Molecular Pharmacology, Department of Pharmacological Sciences, University of Milan, Via Balzaretti 9, 20133 Milan, Italy

Received 22 January 2007; Revised 1 June 2007; Accepted 2 July 2007

Academic Editor: Charles Brink

Copyright © 2007 G. Enrico Rovati and Valérie Capra.


Cysteinyl-leukotrienes (cysteinyl-LTs) exert a range of proinflammatory effects, such as constriction of airways and vascular smooth muscle, increase of endothelial cell permeability leading to plasma exudation and edema, and enhanced mucus secretion. They have proved to be important mediators in asthma, allergic rhinitis, and other inflammatory conditions, including cardiovascular diseases, cancer, atopic dermatitis, and urticaria. The classification into subtypes of the cysteinyl-LT receptors (CysLTRs) was based initially on binding and functional data, obtained using the natural agonists and a wide range of antagonists. CysLTRs have proved remarkably resistant to cloning. However, in 1999 and 2000, the CysLT1R and CysLT2R were successfully cloned and both shown to be members of the G-protein coupled receptors (GPCRs) superfamily. Molecular cloning has confirmed most of the previous pharmacological characterization and identified distinct expression patterns only partially overlapping. Recombinant CysLTRs couple to the Gq/11 pathway that modulates inositol phospholipids hydrolysis and calcium mobilization, whereas in native systems, they often activate a pertussis toxin-insensitive Gi/o-protein, or are coupled promiscuously to both G-proteins. Interestingly, recent data provide evidence for the existence of an additional receptor subtype that seems to respond to both cysteinyl-LTs and uracil nucleosides, and of an intracellular pool of CysLTRs that may have roles different from those of plasma membrane receptors. Finally, a cross-talk between the cysteinyl-LT and the purine systems is being delineated. This review will summarize recent data derived from studies on the molecular and cellular pharmacology of CysLTRs.