Discovery of Novel Potent and Selective Agonists at the Melanocortin-3 Receptor.
ABSTRACT: The melanocortin receptors 3 and 4 control energy homeostasis, food-intake behavior, and correlated pathophysiological conditions. The melanocortin-4 receptor (MC4R) has been broadly investigated. In contrast, the knowledge related to physiological roles of the melanocortin-3 receptor (MC3R) is lacking because of the limited number of known MC3R selective ligands. Here, we report the design, synthesis, biological activity, conformational analysis, and docking with receptors of two potent and selective agonists at the human MC3 receptor.
Project description:The melanocortin-3 (MC3) and melanocortin-4 (MC4) receptors regulate energy homeostasis, food intake, and associated physiological conditions. The melanocortin-4 receptor (MC4R) has been studied extensively. Less is known about specific physiological roles of the melanocortin-3 receptor (MC3R). A major obstacle to this lack of knowledge is attributed to a limited number of identified MC3R selective ligands. We previously reported a spatial scanning approach of a 10-membered thioether-heterocycle ring incorporated into a chimeric peptide template that identified a lead nM MC4R ligand. Upon the basis of those results, 17 compounds were designed and synthesized that focused upon modification in the pharmacophore domain. Notable results include the identification of a 0.13 nM potent 5800-fold mMC3R selective antagonist/slight partial agonist versus a 760 nM mMC4R full agonist (ligand 11). Biophysical experiments (two-dimensional (1)H NMR and computer-assisted molecular modeling) of this ligand resulted in the identification of an inverse ?-turn secondary structure in the ligand pharmacophore domain.
Project description:Intact melanocortin signaling via the G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs), melanocortin receptor 4 (MC4R), and melanocortin receptor 3 (MC3R) is crucial for body weight maintenance. So far, no connection between melanocortin signaling and hypothalamic inflammation has been reported. Using a bimolecular fluorescence complementation library screen, we identified a new interaction partner for these receptors, ring finger protein 11 (RNF11). RNF11 participates in the constitution of the A20 complex that is involved in reduction of tumor necrosis factor ? (TNF?)-induced NF?B signaling, an important pathway in hypothalamic inflammation. Mice treated with high-fat diet (HFD) for 3?days demonstrated a trend toward an increase in hypothalamic Rnf11 expression, as shown for other inflammatory markers under HFD. Furthermore, Gs-mediated signaling of MC3/4R was demonstrated to be strongly reduced to 20-40% by co-expression of RNF11 despite unchanged total receptor expression. Cell surface expression was not affected for MC3R but resulted in a significant reduction of MC4R to 61% by co-expression with RNF11. Mechanisms linking HFD, inflammation, and metabolism remain partially understood. In this study, a new axis between signaling of specific body weight regulating GPCRs and factors involved in hypothalamic inflammation is suggested.
Project description:The central melanocortin (MC) system mediates its effects on food intake via MC3 (MC3R) and MC4 receptors (MC4R). Although the role of MC4R in meal size determination, satiation, food preference, and motivation is well established, the involvement of MC3R in the modulation of food intake has been less explored. Here, we investigated the role of MC3R on the incentive motivation for food, which is a crucial component of feeding behavior. Dopaminergic neurons within the ventral tegmental area (VTA) have a crucial role in the motivation for food. We here report that MC3Rs are expressed on VTA dopaminergic neurons and that pro-opiomelanocortinergic (POMC) neurons in the arcuate nucleus of the hypothalamus (Arc) innervate these VTA dopaminergic neurons. Our findings show that intracerebroventricular or intra-VTA infusion of the selective MC3R agonist ?MSH increases responding for sucrose under a progressive ratio schedule of reinforcement, but not free sucrose consumption in rats. Furthermore, ex vivo electrophysiological recordings show increased VTA dopaminergic neuronal activity upon ?MSH application. Consistent with a dopamine-mediated effect of ?MSH, the increased motivation for sucrose after intra-VTA infusion of ?MSH was blocked by pretreatment with the dopamine receptor antagonist ?-flupenthixol. Taken together, we demonstrate an Arc POMC projection onto VTA dopaminergic neurons that modulates motivation for palatable food via activation of MC3R signaling.
Project description:The centrally expressed melanocortin-3 and -4 receptors (MC3R/MC4R) have been studied as possible targets for weight management therapies, with a preponderance of studies focusing on the MC4R. Herein, a novel tetrapeptide scaffold [Ac-Xaa1-Arg-(pI)DPhe-Xaa4-NH2] is reported. The scaffold was derived from results obtained from a MC3R mixture-based positional scanning campaign. From these results, a set of 48 tetrapeptides were designed and pharmacologically characterized at the mouse melanocortin-1, -3, -4, and -5 receptors. This resulted in the serendipitous discovery of nine compounds that were MC3R agonists (EC50 < 1000 nM) and MC4R antagonists (5.7 < pA2 < 7.8). The three most potent MC3R agonists, 18 [Ac-Arg-Arg-(pI)DPhe-Tic-NH2], 1 [Ac-His-Arg-(pI)DPhe-Tic-NH2], and 41 [Ac-Arg-Arg-(pI)DPhe-DNal(2')-NH2] were more potent (EC50 < 73 nM) than the melanocortin tetrapeptide Ac-His-DPhe-Arg-Trp-NH2. This template contains a sequentially reversed "Arg-(pI)DPhe" motif with respect to the classical "Phe-Arg" melanocortin signaling motif, which results in pharmacology that is first-in-class for the central melanocortin receptors.
Project description:The centrally expressed melanocortin-3 and melanocortin-4 receptors (MC3R and MC4R, respectively) are established targets to treat diseases of positive- and negative-energy homeostasis. We previously reported [ Doering , S. R. ; J. Med. Chem. 2017 , 60 , 4342 - 4357 ] mixture-based positional scanning approaches to identify dual MC3R agonist and MC4R antagonist tetrapeptides. Herein, 46 tetrapeptides were chosen for MC3R agonist screening selectivity profiles, synthesized, and pharmacologically characterized at the mouse melanocortin-1, -3, -4, and -5 receptors. Substitutions to the tetrapeptide template were selected solely based on MC3R agonist potency from the mixture-based screen. This study resulted in the discovery of compound 42 (Ac-Val-Gln-(pI)DPhe-DTic-NH2), a full MC3R agonist that is 100-fold selective for the MC3R over the ?M MC4R partial agonist pharmacology. This compound represents a first-in-class MC3R selective agonist. This ligand will serve as a useful in vivo molecular probe for the investigation of the roles of the MC3R and MC4R in diseases of dysregulated energy homeostasis.
Project description:BACKGROUND: Cyclotides are useful scaffolds to stabilize bioactive peptides. RESULTS: Four melanocortin analogues of kalata B1 were synthesized. One is a selective MC4R agonist. CONCLUSION: The analogues retain the native kalata B1 scaffold and introduce a designed pharmacological activity, validating cyclotides as protein engineering scaffolds. SIGNIFICANCE: A novel type of melanocortin agonist has been developed, with potential as a drug lead for treating obesity. Obesity is an increasingly important global health problem that lacks current treatment options. The melanocortin receptor 4 (MC4R) is a target for obesity therapies because its activation triggers appetite suppression and increases energy expenditure. Cyclotides have been suggested as scaffolds for the insertion and stabilization of pharmaceutically active peptides. In this study, we explored the development of appetite-reducing peptides by synthesizing MC4R agonists based on the insertion of the His-Phe-Arg-Trp sequence into the cyclotide kalata B1. The ability of the analogues to fold similarly to kalata B1 but display MC4R activity were investigated. Four peptides were synthesized using t-butoxycarbonyl peptide chemistry with a C-terminal thioester to facilitate backbone cyclization. The structures of the peptides were found to be similar to kalata B1, evaluated by H? NMR chemical shifts. KB1(GHFRWG;23-28) had a K(i) of 29 nm at the MC4R and was 107 or 314 times more selective over this receptor than MC1R or MC5R, respectively, and had no detectable binding to MC3R. The peptide had higher affinity for the MC4R than the endogenous agonist, ?-melanocyte stimulation hormone, but it was less potent at the MC4R, with an EC(50) of 580 nm for activation of the MC4R. In conclusion, we synthesized melanocortin analogues of kalata B1 that preserve the structural scaffold and display receptor binding and functional activity. KB1(GHFRWG;23-28) is potent and selective for the MC4R. This compound validates the use of cyclotides as scaffolds and has the potential to be a new lead for the treatment of obesity.
Project description:Like most homeostatic systems, adiposity in mammals is defended between upper and lower boundary conditions. While leptin and melanocortin-4 receptor (MC4R) signaling are required for defending energy set point, mechanisms controlling upper and lower homeostatic boundaries are less well understood. In contrast to the MC4R, deletion of the MC3R does not produce measurable hyperphagia or hypometabolism under normal conditions. However, we demonstrate that MC3R is required bidirectionally for controlling responses to external homeostatic challenges, such as caloric restriction or calorie-rich diet. MC3R is also required for regulated excursion from set point, or rheostasis, during pregnancy. Further, we demonstrate a molecular mechanism: MC3R provides regulatory inputs to melanocortin signaling, acting presynaptically on agouti-related protein neurons to regulate ?-aminobutyric acid release onto anorexigenic MC4R neurons, exerting boundary control on the activity of MC4R neurons. Thus, the MC3R is a critical regulator of boundary controls on melanocortin signaling, providing rheostatic control on energy storage.
Project description:The melanocortin system regulates many important functions in the body. There are five melanocortin G protein-coupled receptor subtypes known to date. Herein, we report a structure-activity relationship (SAR) study of a tetrapeptide lead discovered through a double substitution strategy at the melanocortin core His-Phe-Arg-Trp sequence. Several compounds were identified with micromolar agonist activity at the mouse melanocortin-1 (mMC1R) and mouse melanocortin-5 receptor (mMC5R) subtypes, weak antagonist activity at the mouse melanocortin-3 receptor (mMC3R), and potent antagonist activity at the mouse melanocortin-4 receptor (mMC4R). Two compounds (2 and 3) were nanomolar mMC4R antagonists with no mMC3R antagonist activity observed. Additionally, we identified three tetrapeptide MC3R antagonists (1, 6, and 7) that possess minimal mMC3R agonist activity only at 100 ?M, not commonly observed for mMC3R/mMC4R antagonists. These novel molecular templates have the potential as molecular probes to better differentiate the roles of the centrally expressed MC3 and MC4 receptors.
Project description:The melanocortin system regulates metabolic homeostasis and inflammation. Melanocortin agonists have contradictorily been reported to both increase and decrease metabolic rate and body temperature. We find two distinct physiologic responses occurring at similar doses. Intraperitoneal administration of the nonselective melanocortin agonist MTII causes a melanocortin-4 receptor (Mc4r)-mediated hypermetabolism/hyperthermia. This is preceded by a profound, transient hypometabolism/hypothermia that is preserved in mice lacking any one of Mc1r, Mc3r, Mc4r, or Mc5r. Three other melanocortin agonists also caused hypothermia, which is actively achieved via seeking a cool environment, vasodilation, and inhibition of brown adipose tissue thermogenesis. These results suggest that the hypometabolic/hypothermic effect of MTII is not due to a failure of thermoregulation. The hypometabolism/hypothermia was prevented by dopamine antagonists, and MTII selectively activated arcuate nucleus dopaminergic neurons, suggesting that these neurons may contribute to the hypometabolism/hypothermia. We propose that the hypometabolism/hypothermia is a regulated response, potentially beneficial during extreme physiologic stress.
Project description:The melanocortin-3 (MC3R) and melanocortin-4 (MC4R) receptors are expressed in the brain and are implicated in the regulation of food intake and energy homeostasis. The endogenous agonist ligands for these receptors (?-, ?-, ?-MSH and ACTH) are linear peptides with limited receptor subtype selectivity and metabolic stability, thus minimizing their use as probes to characterize the overlapping pharmacological and physiological functions of the melanocortin receptor subtypes. In the present study, an engineered template, in which the peptide backbone was modified by a heterocyclic reverse turn mimetic at the Trp(7) residue, was synthesized using solid phase peptide synthesis and characterized by a ?-galactosidase cAMP based reporter gene assay. The functional assay identified a ?5 nM mouse MC4R agonist (AST3-88) with more than 50-fold selectivity over the mMC3R. Biophysical studies (2D (1)H NMR spectroscopy and molecular dynamics) of AST3-88 identified a type VIII ?-turn secondary structure spanning the pharmacophore domain stabilized by the intramolecular interactions between the side chains of the His and Trp residues. Enzymatic studies of AST3-88 revealed enhanced stability of AST3-88 over the ?-MSH endogenous peptide in rat serum. Upon central administration of AST3-88 into rats, a decreased food intake response was observed. This is the first study to probe the in vivo physiological activity of this engineered peptide-heterocycle template. These findings advance the present knowledge of pharmacophore design for potent, selective, and metabolically stable melanocortin ligands.