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ACS Chem Biol. 2010 Apr 16;5(4):365-75. doi: 10.1021/cb900276p.

Detection of novel functional selectivity at M3 muscarinic acetylcholine receptors using a Saccharomyces cerevisiae platform.

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Drug Discovery Biology, Monash Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences & Department of Pharmacology, Monash University, Parkville, Victoria, Australia 3052.


"Functional selectivity", although new to many chemists and biologists only a few years ago, has now become a dominant theme in drug discovery. This concept posits that different ligands engender unique receptor conformations such that only a subset of signaling pathways linked to a given receptor are recruited. However, successful exploitation of the phenomenon to achieve pathway-based selectivity requires the ability to routinely detect it when assessing ligand behavior. We have utilized different strains of the yeast S. cerevisiae, each expressing a specific human Galpha/yeast Gpa1 protein chimera coupled to a MAP kinase-linked reporter gene readout, to investigate the signaling of the M(3) muscarinic receptor, a G protein-coupled receptor (GPCR) for which various antagonists are used clinically. Using this novel platform, we found that the "antagonists", atropine, N-methylscopolamine, and pirenzepine, were inverse agonists for Gpa1/Galpha(q) but low efficacy agonists for Gpa1/Galpha(12.) Subsequent studies with atropine performed in mammalian 3T3 cells validated these findings by demonstrating inverse agonism for G(q/11)-mediated calcium mobilization but positive agonism for G(12)-mediated membrane ruffling. This is the first study to utilize a yeast platform to discover pathway-biased functional selectivity in a GPCR. In addition to the likely applicability of this approach for identifying biased signaling by novel chemical entities, our findings also suggest that currently marketed medications may exhibit hitherto unappreciated functional selectivity.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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