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J Biol Chem. 2008 Nov 14;283(46):32099-109. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M806817200. Epub 2008 Sep 3.

Regulation of receptor signaling by relaxin A chain motifs: derivation of pan-specific and LGR7-specific human relaxin analogs.

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Reproductive Biology and Stem Cell Research Program, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, California 94305-5317, USA.


Relaxin peptides are important hormones for the regulation of reproductive tissue remodeling and the renal cardiovascular system during pregnancy. Recent studies demonstrated that two of the seven human relaxin family peptides, relaxin H2 (RLN2) and INSL3, signal exclusively through leucine-rich repeat-containing G protein-coupled receptors, LGR7 and LGR8. Although it was well characterized that an RXXXRXXI motif at the RLN2 B chain confers receptor activation activity, it is not clear what roles RLN2 A chain plays in receptor interaction. Analyses of relaxin family genes on syntenic regions of model tetrapods showed that the A chain of RLN2 orthologs exhibited a greater sequence divergence as compared with the receptor-binding domain-containing B chain, foreshadowing a potential role in receptor interactions; hence, defining receptor selectivity in this fast evolving peptide hormone. To test our hypothesis that select residues in the human RLN2 A chain play key roles in receptor interaction, we studied mutant peptides with residue substitution(s) in the A chain. Here, we showed that alanine substitution at the A16 and A17 positions enhances LGR8-activation activity of RLN2, whereas mutation at the A22-23 region (RLN2A22-23) ablates LGR8, but not LGR7, activation activity. In addition, we demonstrated that the functional characteristics of the RLN2A22-23 mutant are mainly attributed to modifications at the PheA23 position. Taken together, our studies indicated that ThrA16, LysA17, and PheA23 constitute part of the receptor-binding interface of human RLN2, and that modification of these residues has led to the generation of novel human RLN2 analogs that would allow selective activation of human LGR7, but not LGR8, in vivo.

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