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J Med Chem. 2001 Oct 25;44(22):3665-72.

Selective, high affinity peptide antagonists of alpha-melanotropin action at human melanocortin receptor 4: their synthesis and biological evaluation in vitro.

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Department of Medicinal Chemistry, Merck Research Laboratories, Rahway, NJ 07065, USA.


Peptide Ac-Nle(4)-cyclo(5beta-->10epsilon)(Asp(5)-His(6)-D-(2')Nal(7)-Arg(8)-Trp(9)-Lys(10))-NH(2), compound 1, a cyclic derivative of alpha-melanotropin, is a nonselective high affinity antagonist at human melanocortin receptors 3 and 4, and an agonist at melanocortin receptors 1 and 5. To differentiate between the physiological functions of these receptors, antagonists with improved receptor selectivity are needed. In this study, analogues of compound 1 without Ac-Nle(4) or His(6) and/or the amino group of Asp(5) were prepared and tested in binding assays and in functional assays on CHO cells expressing hMC3-5R. Several of these peptides were to be selective, high affinity hMC-4R antagonists. The most interesting was compound 10, named MBP10, cyclo(6beta-->10epsilon)(succinyl(6)-D-(2')Nal(7)-Arg(8)-Trp(9)-Lys(10))-NH(2), an antagonist (IC(50) = 0.5 nM) with 125-fold selectivity over hMC-3R (and of >300-fold selectivity over MC-1RB). This compound had no agonist activity at hMC-3R or hMC-4R and only weak agonist activity at hMC-5R. Examination of the sequences of these new peptides revealed that the D-(2')Nal(7)-Arg(8)-Trp(9) segment of peptide 1 forms the "essential core" required for high affinity and high selectivity of analogues of peptide 1 at hMC-4R, but the "extended core", His(6)-D-(2')Nal(7)-Arg(8)-Trp(9), is necessary for the maximum affinity for hMC-3R and hMC-5R.

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