An actual paradigm for activation and regulation of the GPCR (G-protein-coupled receptors)/seven-transmembrane helix family of receptors essentially emerges from extensive studies of the largest family of receptors, the GPCR-A/rhodopsin family. The mechanisms regulating the GPCR-B family signal transduction are less precisely understood due in part to the lack of the conserved signatures of the GPCR-A family (E/DRY, NPXXY) and in part to the absence of a reliable receptor modelling, although some studies suggest that both families share similar features. Here, we try to highlight the current knowledge of the activation and the regulation of the VIP (vasoactive intestinal peptide) receptors, namely VPAC (VIP/pituitary adenylate cyclase-activating peptide receptor) 1 and 2. This includes search for amino acids involved in the stabilization of the receptor active conformation and in coupling to G-proteins, signalling pathways activated in response to VIP, agonist-dependent receptor down-regulation, phosphorylation and internalization as well as pharmacological consequences of receptor hetero-dimerization.

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