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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1997 Jul 22;94(15):7915-20.

The Xenopus proglucagon gene encodes novel GLP-1-like peptides with insulinotropic properties.

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Department of Clinical Biochemistry, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON, Canada M5G IL5.


The proglucagon gene encodes several hormones that have key roles in the regulation of metabolism. In particular, glucagon-like peptide (GLP-1), a potent stimulus of insulin secretion, is being developed as a therapy for the treatment of non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus. To define structural moieties of the molecule that convey its insulinotropic activity, we have cloned and characterized the proglucagon gene from the amphibian, Xenopus laevis. Unexpectedly, these cDNAs were found to encode three unique glucagon-like-1 peptides, termed xenGLP-1A, xenGLP-1B, and xenGLP-1C in addition to the typical proglucagon-derived hormones glucagon and GLP-2. xenGLP-1A, -1B, and -1C were synthesized and tested for their ability to bind and activate the human GLP-1 receptor (hGLP-1R), and to stimulate insulin release from rat pancreas. All three Xenopus GLP-1-like peptides bind effectively to the hGLP-1R and stimulate cAMP production. Surprisingly, xenGLP-1B(1-30) demonstrated higher affinity for the hGLP-1R than hGLP-1 (IC50 of 1.1 +/- 0.4 nM vs. 4.4 +/- 1.0 nM, respectively, P < 0.02) and was equipotent to hGLP-1 in stimulating cAMP production (EC50 of 0.17 +/- 0.02 nM vs. 0.6 +/- 0. 2 nM, respectively, P > 0.05). Further studies demonstrated that hGLP-1, xenGLP-1A, -1B, and -1C stimulate comparable insulin release from the pancreas. These results demonstrate that despite an average of nine amino acid differences between the predicted Xenopus GLPs and hGLP-1, all act as hGLP-1R agonists.

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