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Assay Drug Dev Technol. 2017 Oct/Nov;15(7):320-329. doi: 10.1089/adt.2017.811.

Standard Curves Are Necessary to Determine Pharmacological Properties for Ligands in Functional Assays Using Competition Binding Technologies.

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1 Bristol-Myers Squibb Company , Wallingford, Connecticut.
2 Arvinas, Inc. , New Haven, Connecticut.


Homogeneous functional assays that utilize competition binding technology are widely used for determining pharmacological properties such as intrinsic activity and potency. One example is time-resolved fluorescence resonance energy transfer (TR-FRET) 3',5'-cyclic adenosine monophosphate (cAMP) assays, where labeled cAMP (tracer) and a labeled anti-cAMP antibody bind together to produce a TR-FRET signal when the two constituents are proximal to each other. This signal is disrupted when unlabeled and cellularly generated cAMP competes with the tracer cAMP for binding to the labeled antibody. It is important that the resulting assay signal, usually expressed as a TR-FRET ratio, be transformed to cAMP concentration using a cAMP standard curve. However, examples are still generated in the literature wherein investigators have used the ratiometric signal (not transformed using a standard curve) to determine values for intrinsic activity and potency of ligands. Untransformed raw data often produce reasonable looking sigmoidal concentration response curves, perhaps tempting investigators to use the raw data instead of the transformed data for applying pharmacological models. In this article, we describe the correct procedure for determining the potency and intrinsic activity of ligands that result in changes in cAMP levels using a lysate dilution assay of GLP-1 (7-36)-mediated TR-FRET cAMP accumulation and simulated data. We also highlight how the inappropriate use of raw signal data can dramatically affect interpretation of intrinsic activity and potency of ligands, and how this can adversely affect drug discovery programs. These findings apply not only to cAMP functional assays but also to other functional cellular signaling assays that utilize competition binding technologies.


TR-FRET; cAMP; functional assays; standard curve

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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