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Br J Pharmacol. 1999 Jul;127(5):1288-94.

Ligand efficacy and potency at recombinant human MT2 melatonin receptors: evidence for agonist activity of some mt1-antagonists.

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Cattedra di Chemioterapia, Dipartimento di Farmacologia, Università degli Studi di Milano, Italy.


NIH3T3 fibroblast cells transfected with the full-length coding region of the MT2 human melatonin receptor stably expressed the receptor that is coupled to a pertussis toxin-sensitive G protein and exhibits high affinity for melatonin (K(I) = 261 pM). The order of apparent affinity for selected compounds was: 4-phenyl-2-propionamidotetralin (4P-PDOT) > 2-phenylmelatonin > 2-iodomelatonin > 2-bromomelatonin > 6-chloromelatonin > or = melatonin > luzindole > N-acetyl-tryptamine > or = N-[(2-phenyl-1H-indol-3-yl)ethyl]cyclobutanecarboxamide (compound 6) > N-acetylserotonin. 4P-PDOT exhibited a very high selectivity (approximately 22,000 times) for the MT2 receptor with respect to the mt1 receptor subtype, as tested in comparative experiments with membrane preparations from NIH3T3 cells stably transfected with the human mt1 receptor. MT2 melatonin receptors mediated incorporation of [35S]-GTPgammaS into isolated membranes via receptor catalyzed exchange of [35S]-GTPgammaS for GDP. The relative intrinsic activity and potency of the compounds were subsequently studied by using [35S]-GTPgammaS incorporation. The order of potency was equal to the order of apparent affinity. Melatonin and full agonists increased [35S]-GTPgammaS binding by 250% over basal (taken as 100%). Luzindole did not increase basal [35S]-GTPgammaS binding but competitively inhibited melatonin-stimulated [35S]-GTPgammaS binding, thus exhibiting antagonist action. The other two mt1 antagonists used here, 4P-PDOT and N-[(2-phenyl-1H-indol-3-yl)ethyl]cyclobutanecarboxamide, behaved as partial agonists at the MT2 subtype, with relative intrinsic activities of 0.37 and 0.39, respectively. These findings show, for the first time, important differences in the intrinsic activity of analogues between the human mt1 and MT2 melatonin receptor subtypes.

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