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Methods Enzymol. 2010;484:53-73. doi: 10.1016/B978-0-12-381298-8.00003-4.

Modulation of the constitutive activity of the ghrelin receptor by use of pharmacological tools and mutagenesis.

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1
Department of Neuroscience and Pharmacology, University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen N, Denmark.

Abstract

Ghrelin and its receptor are important regulators of metabolic functions, including appetite, energy expenditure, fat accumulation, and growth hormone (GH) secretion. The ghrelin receptor is characterized by an ability to signal even without any ligand present with approximately 50% of the maximally ghrelin-induced efficacy-a feature that may have important physiological implications. The high basal signaling can be modulated either by administration of specific ligands or by engineering of mutations in the receptor structure. [D-Arg(1), D-Phe(5), D-Trp(7,9), Leu(11)]-substance P was the first inverse agonist to be identified for the ghrelin receptor, and this peptide has been used as a starting point for identification of the structural requirements for inverse agonist properties in the ligand. The receptor binding core motif was identified as D-Trp-Phe-D-Trp-Leu-Leu, and elongation of this peptide in the amino-terminal end determined the efficacy. Attachment of a positively charged amino acid was responsible for full inverse agonism, whereas an alanin converted the peptide into a partial agonist. Importantly, by use of mutational mapping of the residues critical for the modified D-Trp-Phe-D-Trp-Leu-Leu peptides, it was found that space-generating mutations in the deeper part of the receptor improved inverse agonism, whereas similar mutations located in the more extracellular part improved agonism. Modulation of the basal signaling by mutations in the receptor structure is primarily obtained by substitutions in an aromatic cluster that keep TMs VI and VII in close proximity to TM III and thus stabilize the active conformation. Also, substitution of a Phe in TM V is crucial for the high basal activity of the receptor as this residue serves as a partner for Trp VI:13 in the active conformation. It is suggested that inverse agonist and antagonist against the ghrelin receptor provide an interesting possibility in the development of drugs for treatment of obesity and diabetes and that improved structural understanding of the receptor function facilitates the drug development.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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