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Cell Mol Biol (Noisy-le-grand). 1999 Nov;45(7):1029-34.

ACTH1-17 is a more potent agonist at the human MC1 receptor than alpha-MSH.

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  • 1Department of Biomedical Sciences, University of Bradford, UK.


The melanocortin receptor MC1 is expressed on melanocytes and is an important control point for melanogenesis and other responses. Alpha-MSH, which is considered to be the major ligand at the human melanocortin (MC)1 receptor (hMC1R), is produced from proopiomelanocortin (POMC) in the pituitary and in the skin by melanocytes and keratinocytes. Other POMC peptides are also produced in the skin and their concentrations exceed those of alpha-MSH by several fold. One of the most abundant is ACTH1-17. We have shown that adrenocorticotrophic hormone (ACTH)1-17 is more potent than alpha-MSH in stimulating melanogenesis in human melanocytes and unlike alpha-MSH produces a biphasic dose response curve. In this study we have examined the ability of ACTH1-17 to function as a ligand at the hMC1R. Competitive binding assays with [125I]Nle4 DPhe7 alpha-MSH as labelled ligand were carried out in HEK 293 cells transfected with the hMC1R. ACTH1-17 showed high affinity for the hMC1R with a Ki value of 0.21 +/- 0.03 nM which was slightly higher than that of 0.13 +/- 0.005 nM for alpha-MSH. ACTH1-17 was, however, more potent than alpha-MSH in increasing cAMP and IP3 production in the transfected cells. Our results demonstrate that ACTH1-17 is a potent agonist at the hMC1R. It is therefore possible that ACTH1-17, which is found in the skin in greater concentrations than alpha-MSH, has an important role in the regulation of human melanocytes and other cell types that express the hMC1R.

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