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Comb Chem High Throughput Screen. 2019;22(7):445-454. doi: 10.2174/1386207322666190919143735.

Screening GLP-1 Receptor Ligands from Natural Products in Herbs through High-Content Technique.

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Faculty of Life Science and Biotechnology, Kunming University of Science and Technology, Kunming, Yunnan, China.
State Key Laboratory of Subhealth Intervention Technology, Hunan Agricultural University, Changsha, Hunan, China.



Screening of active components from a natural product, especially from a crude extract, is a great challenge. To avoid potential activity interference of the N-terminus modification in the most common constructs based on GCPRs labeled with GFP technology, a Cterminus tGFP-labeled hGLP-1 receptor containing recombinant cell line hGLP-1R-tGFP was constructed and tried to be used in the screening of natural products from Chinese herb.


The GLP1 receptor gene was amplified and the inserts pCMV6-AC-tGFP and tGFP were fused at the C-terminus of GLP1 receptor to construct a recombinant plasmid. The recombinant was transfected into U2OS cell and selected with antibiotics and flow cytometry. The constructed cell line was named as hGLP-1R-tGFP cell line. The expression levels of GLP-1R-tGFP protein were confirmed by western-blot. The fluorescence imaging of re-distribution from diffusing to aggregate spots inside the cells was quantitated and analyzed by High Content Screening (HCS) assay. Meanwhile, the specificity, stability and C-terminus function of hGLP-1R-tGFP cell line were characterized. In order to allow the recombinant cell line of hGLP-1R-tGFP to be suitable in highcontent system of Arrayscan-infinity-700 in screening mode, several conditions have also been optimized. In the end, a total of 100 crude extract samples provided by the Yunnan Institute of Materia Medica have been screened with this method.


Upon the activation of GLP-1 receptors by Exendin 4, fluorescent patches appeared on the cell membrane and subsequently internalized to form fluorescent aggregates inside the cells under fluorescent microscopy examination. The agonistic activity, sensitivity and specificity of the formation of fluorescent aggregate spot in hGLP-1R-tGFP cells have been confirmed by the activation of GLP-1R using the GLP-1analogues. The agonistic effects of GLP-1 analogues are blocked by a GLP-1R antagonist, Exendin9-39. The downstream of GLP-1 pathway, the activation of adenylate cyclase and the raising of cellular cAMP levels, remained intact in these tGFP modified C-terminus GLP-1 receptor cells. Meanwhile, a total of 100 crude extract samples from Chinese herbs have been screened by this method to find new active ingredients.


Combined with High Content Screening image and data automatic acquisition processing, a new screening assay based on a recombinant U2OS cell line which GFP labeled at the C terminus of GLP1 receptor has been developed. GLP-1R agonist activity in extracts of Astragalus propinquus and Panax notoginseng from Chinese herbs has been determined by this method.


Chinese herbs; GLP-1 analogue; GLP-1R; High-content screening; screening; tGFP.

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