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J Med Chem. 2008 Jan 24;51(2):187-95. Epub 2007 Dec 19.

Structure-activity relationships of cyclic lactam analogues of alpha-melanocyte-stimulating hormone (alpha-MSH) targeting the human melanocortin-3 receptor.

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Department of Chemistry, University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona 85721, USA.


A variety of dicarboxylic acid linkers introduced between the alpha-amino group of Pro(6) and the -amino group of Lys(10) of the cyclic lactam alpha-melanocyte-stimulating hormone (alpha-MSH)-derived Pro(6)-D-Phe(7)/D-Nal(2')(7)-Arg(8)-Trp(9)-Lys(10)-NH2 pentapeptide template lead to nanomolar range and selective hMC3R agonists and antagonists. Replacement of the Pro(6) residue and the dicarboxylic acid linker with 2,3-pyrazine-dicarboxylic acid furnished a highly selective nanomolar range hMC3R partial agonist (analogue 12, c[CO-2,3-pyrazine-CO-D-Phe-Arg-Trp-Lys]-NH2, EC50 = 27 nM, 70% max cAMP) and an hMC3R antagonist (analogue 13, c[CO-2,3-pyrazine-CO-D-Nal(2')-Arg-Trp-Lys]-NH2, IC50 = 23 nM). Modeling experiments suggest that 2,3-pyrazinedicarboxylic acid stabilizes a beta-turn-like structure with the D-Phe/D-Nal(2') residues, which explains the high potency of the corresponding peptides. Placement of a Nle residue in position 6 produced a hMC3R/hMC5R antagonist (analogue 15, c[CO-(CH 2)2-CO-Nle-D-Nal(2')-Arg-Trp-Lys]-NH2, IC50 = 12 and 17 nM, respectively), similarly to the previously described cyclic gamma-melanocyte-stimulating hormone (gamma-MSH)-derived hMC3R/hMC5R antagonists. These newly developed melanotropins will serve as critical biochemical tools for elucidating the full spectrum of functions performed by the physiologically important melanocortin-3 receptor.

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