Faculty of Biological Sciences

Dr Dan Donnelly

BSc, Leicester; PhD 1992, London.
Senior Lecturer in Molecular Pharmacology
School of Biomedical Sciences

Contact: Garstang 6.41d, +44(0) 113 34 37761, email address for  

Research Interests

G Protein-Coupled Receptor - structure and function.


GLP-1, PTH and CGRP receptors


Current Projects

The laboratory studies the structure & function of G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) - one of the most diverse and ubiquitous families of integral membrane proteins, which also represent a significant proportion of known drug targets. Using molecular biological & pharmacological approaches, combined with molecular modelling, the aim of this research is to elucidate the mechanism by which these receptors bind their ligands and transduce the signal across the plasma membrane. The research concentrates primarily on the glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) receptor and the parathyroid hormone receptors (PTH1 and PTH2).


Faculty Research and Innovation

Studentship information

Undergraduate project topics:

  • G Protein-Coupled Receptor - structure and function.

Postgraduate studentship areas:

  • The Structure and Function of the 7TM Receptor for Glucagon-like Peptide-1 (GLP-1)

See also:

Modules managed

BMSC2224 - Principles of Drug Discovery
BMSC3143 - Advanced Topics in Pharmacology I
BMSC3233 - Advanced Topics in Pharmacology II

Modules taught

BMSC1110/SPSC1220 - Foundation modules
BMSC1212 - Introduction to Pharmacology
BMSC1213 - Basic Laboratory and Scientific Skills 2
BMSC2119 - Experimental Skills
BMSC2119/3302 - Experimental Skills/Medical Pharmacology
BMSC2224 - Principles of Drug Discovery
BMSC2226 - Experimental Skills in Pharmacology
BMSC2230 - Topics in Pharmacology
BMSC3143/44/45/46 G - ATU - Molecular pharmacology of GPCRs
BMSC3301 - Research Project in Biomedical Sciences
BMSC3302 - Medical Pharmacology
BMSC3399 - Extended Research Project Preparation

Academic roles

UG Programme Leader - Pharmacology programmes


Member of Faculty Taught Student Education Committee (Co-opted member)
Member of Undergraduate School Taught Student Education Committee (Programme Manager: Pharmacology)

Group Leader Dr Dan Donnelly  (Senior Lecturer in Molecular Pharmacology)

G Protein-Coupled Receptor - structure and function. 


Carla Gómez Santiago (Primary supervisor) 50% FTE
James Henderson (Co-supervisor) 50% FTE
Claudia Stohrer (Co-supervisor) 30% FTE

Gómez Santiago C, Paci E, Donnelly D A mechanism for agonist activation of the glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) receptor through modelling& molecular dynamics Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications, 2018
View abstract

Weaver RE, Mobarec JC, Wigglesworth MJ, Reynolds CA, Donnelly D High affinity binding of the peptide agonist TIP-39 to the parathyroid hormone 2 (PTH<inf>2</inf>) receptor requires the hydroxyl group of Tyr-318 on transmembrane helix 5 Biochemical Pharmacology 127 71-81, 2017
View abstract

de Graaf C, Donnelly D, Wootten D, Lau J, Sexton PM, Miller LJ, Ahn JM, Liao J, Fletcher MM, Yang D, Brown AJH, Zhou C, Deng J, Wang MW Glucagon-like peptide-1 and its class B G protein-coupled receptors: A long march to therapeutic successes Pharmacological Reviews 68 954-1013, 2016
View abstract

Dods RL, Donnelly D The peptide agonist-binding site of the glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) receptor based on site-directed mutagenesis and knowledge-based modelling Bioscience Reports 36, 2016
View abstract

Kumar A, Gopalswamy M, Wishart C, Henze M, Eschen-Lippold L, Donnelly D, Balbach J N-terminal phosphorylation of parathyroid hormone (PTH) abolishes its receptor activity ACS Chemical Biology 9 2465-2470, 2014
View abstract

Al-Sabah S, Al-Fulaij M, Shaaban G, Ahmed HA, Mann RJ, Donnelly D, Bünemann M, Krasel C The GIP receptor displays higher basal activity than the GLP-1 receptor but does not recruit GRK2 or arrestin3 effectively. PLoS ONE 9, 2014
View abstract

Ravichandran S, Singh N, Donnelly D, Migliore M, Johnson P, Fishwick C, Luke BT, Martin B, Maudsley S, Fugmann SD, Moaddel R Pharmacophore model of the quercetin binding site of the SIRT6 protein. J Mol Graph Model 49 38-46, 2014
View abstract

Weaver RE, Wigglesworth MJ, Donnelly D A salt bridge between Arg-20 on parathyroid hormone (PTH) and Asp-137 on the PTH<inf>1</inf>receptor is essential for full affinity Peptides 61 83-87, 2014
View abstract

Donnelly D The structure and function of the glucagon-like peptide-1 receptor and its ligands. Br J Pharmacol 166 27-41, 2012
View abstract

Mann RJ, Al-Sabah S, de Maturana RL, Sinfield JK, Donnelly D Functional coupling of Cys-226 and Cys-296 in the glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) receptor indicates a disulfide bond that is close to the activation pocket PEPTIDES 31 2289-2293, 2010

Chapman KL, Kinsella GK, Cox A, Donnelly D, Findlay JBC Interactions of the Melanocortin-4 Receptor with the Peptide Agonist NDP-MSH J MOL BIOL 401 433-450, 2010

Mann RJ, Nasr NE, Sinfield JK, Paci E, Donnelly D The major determinant of exendin-4/glucagon-like peptide 1 differential affinity at the rat glucagon-like peptide 1 receptor N-terminal domain is a hydrogen bond from SER-32 of exendin-4 BRIT J PHARMACOL 160 1973-1984, 2010

Miller PS, Barwell J, Poyner DR, Wigglesworth MJ, Garland SL, Donnelly D Non-peptidic antagonists of the CGRP receptor, BIBN4096BS and MK-0974, interact with the calcitonin receptor-like receptor via methionine-42 and RAMP1 via tryptophan-74 BIOCHEM BIOPH RES CO 391 437-442, 2010

Barwell J, Miller PS, Donnelly D, Poyner DR Mapping interaction sites within the N-terminus of the calcitonin gene-related peptide receptor; the role of residues 23-60 of the calcitonin receptor-like receptor PEPTIDES 31 170-176, 2010

Weaver RE, Donnelly D, Wabitsch M, Grant PJ, Balmforth AJ Functional expression of glucose-dependent insulinotropic polypeptide receptors is coupled to differentiation in a human adipocyte model INT J OBESITY 32 1705-1711, 2008

Mann R, Wigglesworth MJ, Donnelly D Ligand-receptor interactions at the parathyroid hormone receptors: Subtype binding selectivity is mediated via an interaction between residue 23 on the ligand and residue 41 on the receptor MOL PHARMACOL 74 605-613, 2008

Mann R, Nasr N, Hadden D, Sinfield J, Abidi F, Al-Sabah S, de Maturana RL, Treece-Birch J, Willshaw A, Donnelly D Peptide binding at the GLP-1 receptor BIOCHEM SOC T 35 713-716, 2007

Ellis J, Warburton P, Donnelly D, Balmforth AJ Conformational induction is the key process for activation of the AT(1) receptor BIOCHEM PHARMACOL 71 464-471, 2006

Cox A, Donnelly D, Kaur M, Cheetham SC, Cockcroft VB, Findlay JBC MTSEA prevents ligand binding to the human melanocortin-4 receptor by modification of cysteine 130 in transmembrane helix 3 FEBS LETT 579 285-291, 2005

Al-Sabah S, Donnelly D The primary ligand-binding interaction at the GLP-1 receptor is via the putative helix of the peptide agonists PROTEIN PEPTIDE LETT 11 9-14, 2004

de Maturana RL, Treece-Birch J, Abidi F, Findlay JBC, Donnelly D Met-204 and Tyr-205 are together important for binding GLP-1 receptor agonists but not their N-terminally truncated analogues PROTEIN PEPTIDE LETT 11 15-22, 2004

Al-Sabah S, Donnelly D The positive charge at Lys-288 of the glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) receptor is important for binding the N-terminus of peptide agonists FEBS LETT 553 342-346, 2003

Al-Sabah S, Donnelly D A model for receptor-peptide binding at the glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) receptor through the analysis of truncated ligands and receptors BRIT J PHARMACOL 140 339-346, 2003

de Maturana RL, Willshaw A, Kuntzsch A, Rudolph R, Donnelly D The isolated N-terminal domain of the glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) receptor binds exendin peptides with much higher affinity than GLP-1 J BIOL CHEM 278 10195-10200, 2003

de Maturana RL, Donnelly D The glucagon-like peptide-1 receptor binding site for the N-terminus of GLP-1 requires polarity at Asp198 rather than negative charge (FEBS 26658) (vol 530, pg 244, 2002) FEBS LETT 531 572-572, 2002

López de Maturana R, Donnelly D Erratum: The glucagon-like peptide-1 receptor binding site for the N-terminus of GLP-1 requires polarity at Asp198 rather than negative charge (FEBS Letters (2002) 530 (244-248) PII: S0014579302034920) FEBS Letters 531 572-, 2002

López de Maturana R, Donnelly D The glucagon-like peptide-1 receptor binding site for the N-terminus of GLP-1 requires polarity at Asp198 rather than negative charge. FEBS Lett 530 244-248, 2002
View abstract

Donnelly D, Maudsley S, Moser RN, Hurrell CR, Gent JP, Findlay JBC Conserved polar residues in the transmembrane domain of the human tachykinin NK2 receptor: functional roles and structural implications. Biochemical Journal 339 56-61, 1999

Maudsley S, Gent JP, Findlay JBC, Donnelly D The relationship between the agonist-induced activation and desensitisation of the human tachykinin NK2 receptor expressed in Xenopus oocytes. British Journal of Pharmacology 124 675-684, 1998

Donnelly D The arrangement of the transmembrane helices in the secretin receptor family of G protein-coupled receptors FEBS Letters 409 431-436, 1997
View abstract

Balmforth AJ, Lee AJ, Warburton P, Donnelly D, Ball SG The specificity of Peptide-Binding of the Angiotensin AT1 receptor is Dependent on an Interaction Between Transmembrane Helices III and VII Journal of Biological Chemistry 272 4245-4251, 1997

Balmforth AJ, Lee AJ, Shepherd FH, Warburton P, Donnelly D, Ball SG G-protein-coupled receptors for peptide hormones: angiotensin II receptors. Biochemical Society Transactions 25 1041-1046, 1997