Identification of ligand-selective peptidic ActRIIB-antagonists using phage display technology.
ABSTRACT: ActRIIB (activin receptor type-2B) is an activin receptor subtype constitutively expressed in the whole body, playing a role in cellular proliferation, differentiation, and metabolism. For its various physiological activities, ActRIIB interacts with activin and multiple other ligands including myostatin (MSTN), growth differentiation factor 11 (GDF11), and bone morphogenetic protein 9 (BMP9). Notably, the protein-protein interaction (PPI) between ActRIIB and MSTN negatively controls muscular development. Therefore, this PPI has been targeted for effective treatment of muscle degenerative diseases such as muscular dystrophy and sarcopenia. Here, we report the identification of ligand-selective peptidic ActRIIB-antagonists by phage display technology. Our peptides bound to the extracellular domain of ActRIIB, inhibited PPIs between ActRIIB expressed on the cell surface and its ligands, and subsequently suppressed activation of Smad that serves as the downstream signal of the ActRIIB pathway. Interestingly, these peptidic antagonists displayed different ligand selectivities; the AR2mini peptide inhibited multiple ligands (activin A, MSTN, GDF11, and BMP9), AR9 inhibited MSTN and GDF11, while AR8 selectively inhibited MSTN. This is the first report of artificial peptidic ActRIIB-antagonists possessing ligand-selectivity.
Project description:TGF? family ligands, which include the TGF?s, BMPs, and activins, signal by forming a ternary complex with type I and type II receptors. For TGF?s and BMPs, structures of ternary complexes have revealed differences in receptor assembly. However, structural information for how activins assemble a ternary receptor complex is lacking. We report the structure of an activin class member, GDF11, in complex with the type II receptor ActRIIB and the type I receptor Alk5. The structure reveals that receptor positioning is similar to the BMP class, with no interreceptor contacts; however, the type I receptor interactions are shifted toward the ligand fingertips and away from the dimer interface. Mutational analysis shows that ligand type I specificity is derived from differences in the fingertips of the ligands that interact with an extended loop specific to Alk4 and Alk5. The study also reveals differences for how TGF? and GDF11 bind to the same type I receptor, Alk5. For GDF11, additional contacts at the fingertip region substitute for the interreceptor interactions that are seen for TGF?, indicating that Alk5 binding to GDF11 is more dependent on direct contacts. In support, we show that a single residue of Alk5 (Phe84), when mutated, abolishes GDF11 signaling, but has little impact on TGF? signaling. The structure of GDF11/ActRIIB/Alk5 shows that, across the TGF? family, different mechanisms regulate type I receptor binding and specificity, providing a molecular explanation for how the activin class accommodates low-affinity type I interactions without the requirement of cooperative receptor interactions.
Project description:The TGF-? family ligands myostatin, GDF11, and activins are negative regulators of skeletal muscle mass, which have been reported to primarily signal via the ActRIIB receptor on skeletal muscle and thereby induce muscle wasting described as cachexia. Use of a soluble ActRIIB-Fc "trap," to block myostatin pathway signaling in normal or cachectic mice leads to hypertrophy or prevention of muscle loss, perhaps suggesting that the ActRIIB receptor is primarily responsible for muscle growth regulation. Genetic evidence demonstrates however that both ActRIIB- and ActRIIA-deficient mice display a hypertrophic phenotype. Here, we describe the mode of action of bimagrumab (BYM338), as a human dual-specific anti-ActRIIA/ActRIIB antibody, at the molecular and cellular levels. As shown by X-ray analysis, bimagrumab binds to both ActRIIA and ActRIIB ligand binding domains in a competitive manner at the critical myostatin/activin binding site, hence preventing signal transduction through either ActRII. Myostatin and the activins are capable of binding to both ActRIIA and ActRIIB, with different affinities. However, blockade of either single receptor through the use of specific anti-ActRIIA or anti-ActRIIB antibodies achieves only a partial signaling blockade upon myostatin or activin A stimulation, and this leads to only a small increase in muscle mass. Complete neutralization and maximal anabolic response are achieved only by simultaneous blockade of both receptors. These findings demonstrate the importance of ActRIIA in addition to ActRIIB in mediating myostatin and activin signaling and highlight the need for blocking both receptors to achieve a strong functional benefit.
Project description:Activin receptor-like kinase 1 (ALK1), an endothelial cell-specific type I receptor of the TGF-? superfamily, is an important regulator of normal blood vessel development as well as pathological tumor angiogenesis. As such, ALK1 is an important therapeutic target. Thus, several ALK1-directed agents are currently in clinical trials as anti-angiogenic cancer therapeutics. Given the biological and clinical importance of the ALK1 signaling pathway, we sought to elucidate the biophysical and structural basis underlying ALK1 signaling. The TGF-? family ligands BMP9 and BMP10 as well as the three type II TGF-? family receptors ActRIIA, ActRIIB, and BMPRII have been implicated in ALK1 signaling. Here, we provide a kinetic and thermodynamic analysis of BMP9 and BMP10 interactions with ALK1 and type II receptors. Our data show that BMP9 displays a significant discrimination in type II receptor binding, whereas BMP10 does not. We also report the crystal structure of a fully assembled ternary complex of BMP9 with the extracellular domains of ALK1 and ActRIIB. The structure reveals that the high specificity of ALK1 for BMP9/10 is determined by a novel orientation of ALK1 with respect to BMP9, which leads to a unique set of receptor-ligand interactions. In addition, the structure explains how BMP9 discriminates between low and high affinity type II receptors. Taken together, our findings provide structural and mechanistic insights into ALK1 signaling that could serve as a basis for novel anti-angiogenic therapies.
Project description:The single transmembrane domain serine/threonine kinase activin receptor type IIB (ActRIIB) has been proposed to bind key regulators of skeletal muscle mass development, including the ligands GDF-8 (myostatin) and GDF-11 (BMP-11). Here we provide a detailed kinetic characterization of ActRIIB binding to several low and high affinity ligands using a soluble activin receptor type IIB-Fc chimera (ActRIIB.Fc). We show that both GDF-8 and GDF-11 bind the extracellular domain of ActRIIB with affinities comparable with those of activin A, a known high affinity ActRIIB ligand, whereas BMP-2 and BMP-7 affinities for ActRIIB are at least 100-fold lower. Using site-directed mutagenesis, we demonstrate that ActRIIB binds GDF-11 and activin A in different ways such as, for example, substitutions in ActRIIB Leu(79) effectively abolish ActRIIB binding to activin A yet not to GDF-11. Native ActRIIB has four isoforms that differ in the length of the C-terminal portion of their extracellular domains. We demonstrate that the C terminus of the ActRIIB extracellular domain is crucial for maintaining biological activity of the ActRIIB.Fc receptor chimera. In addition, we show that glycosylation of ActRIIB is not required for binding to activin A or GDF-11. Together, our findings reveal binding specificity and activity determinants of the ActRIIB receptor that combine to effect specificity in the activation of distinct signaling pathways.
Project description:Soluble activin type II receptors (ActRIIA/ActRIIB), via binding to diverse TGF-? proteins, can increase muscle and bone mass, correct anemia or protect against diet-induced obesity. While exciting, these multiple actions of soluble ActRIIA/IIB limit their therapeutic potential and highlight the need for new reagents that target specific ActRIIA/IIB ligands. Here, we modified the activin A and activin B prodomains, regions required for mature growth factor synthesis, to generate specific activin antagonists. Initially, the prodomains were fused to the Fc region of mouse IgG2A antibody and, subsequently, "fastener" residues (Lys(45), Tyr(96), His(97), and Ala(98); activin A numbering) that confer latency to other TGF-? proteins were incorporated. For the activin A prodomain, these modifications generated a reagent that potently (IC(50) 5 nmol/l) and specifically inhibited activin A signaling in vitro, and activin A-induced muscle wasting in vivo. Interestingly, the modified activin B prodomain inhibited both activin A and B signaling in vitro (IC(50) ~2 nmol/l) and in vivo, suggesting it could serve as a general activin antagonist. Importantly, unlike soluble ActRIIA/IIB, the modified prodomains did not inhibit myostatin or GDF-11 activity. To underscore the therapeutic utility of specifically antagonising activin signaling, we demonstrate that the modified activin prodomains promote significant increases in muscle mass.
Project description:Growth differentiation factor 8 (GDF8; also known as myostatin) and GDF11 are closely related members of the transforming growth factor ? (TGF-?) family. GDF8 strongly and negatively regulates skeletal muscle growth, and GDF11 has been implicated in various age-related pathologies such as cardiac hypertrophy. GDF8 and GDF11 signaling activities are controlled by the extracellular protein antagonists follistatin; follistatin-like 3 (FSTL3); and WAP, follistatin/kazal, immunoglobulin, Kunitz, and netrin domain-containing (WFIKKN). All of these proteins contain a follistatin domain (FSD) important for ligand binding and antagonism. Here, we investigated the structure and function of the FSD from murine WFIKKN2 and compared it with the FSDs of follistatin and FSTL3. Using native gel shift and surface plasmon resonance analyses, we determined that the WFIKKN2 FSD can interact with both GDF8 and GDF11 and block their interactions with the type II receptor activin A receptor type 2B (ActRIIB). Further, we solved the crystal structure of the WFIKKN2 FSD to 1.39 Å resolution and identified surface-exposed residues that, when substituted with alanine, reduce antagonism of GDF8 in full-length WFIKKN2. Comparison of the WFIKKN2 FSD with those of follistatin and FSTL3 revealed differences in both the FSD structure and position of residues within the domain that are important for ligand antagonism. Taken together, our results indicate that both WFIKKN and follistatin utilize their FSDs to block the type II receptor but do so via different binding interactions.
Project description:Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) is a recessive disease caused by a dystrophin gene mutation. Myoblast transplantation permits to introduce the dystrophin gene in dystrophic muscle fibers. However, the success of this approach is reduced by the short duration of the regeneration following the transplantation, which reduces the number of hybrid fibers. Myostatin (MSTN) is a negative regulator of skeletal muscle development and responsible for limiting regeneration. It binds with high affinity to the activin type IIB receptor (ActRIIB). Our aim was to verify whether the success of the myoblast transplantation is enhanced by blocking the MSTN signal with expression of a dominant negative mutant of ActRIIB (dnActRIIB). In vitro, blocking MSTN activity with a lentivirus carrying dnActRIIB increased proliferation and fusion of human myoblasts because MSTN regulates the expression of several myogenic regulatory factors. In vivo, myoblasts infected with the dnActRIIB lentivirus were transplanted in immunodeficient dystrophic mice. Dystrophin immunostaining of tibialis anterior (TA) cross-sections of these mice 1 month post-transplantation revealed more human dystrophin-positive myofibers following the transplantation of dnActRIIB myoblasts than of control myoblasts. Thus, blocking the MSTN signal with dnActRIIB improved the success of myoblast transplantation by increasing the myoblast proliferation and fusion and changed the expression of myogenic regulatory factors.
Project description:Growth and differentiation factor 11 (GDF11) and myostatin (MSTN) are closely related transforming growth factor ? (TGF-?) family members, but their biological functions are quite distinct. While MSTN has been widely shown to inhibit muscle growth, GDF11 regulates skeletal patterning and organ development during embryogenesis. Postnatal functions of GDF11, however, remain less clear and controversial. Due to the perinatal lethality of Gdf11 null mice, previous studies used recombinant GDF11 protein to prove its postnatal function. However, recombinant GDF11 and MSTN proteins share nearly identical biochemical properties, and most GDF11-binding molecules have also been shown to bind MSTN, generating the possibility that the effects mediated by recombinant GDF11 protein actually reproduce the endogenous functions of MSTN. To clarify the endogenous functions of GDF11, here, we focus on genetic studies and show that Gdf11 null mice, despite significantly down-regulating Mstn expression, exhibit reduced bone mass through impaired osteoblast (OB) and chondrocyte (CH) maturations and increased osteoclastogenesis, while the opposite is observed in Mstn null mice that display enhanced bone mass. Mechanistically, Mstn deletion up-regulates Gdf11 expression, which activates bone morphogenetic protein (BMP) signaling pathway to enhance osteogenesis. Also, mice overexpressing follistatin (FST), a MSTN/GDF11 inhibitor, exhibit increased muscle mass accompanied by bone fractures, unlike Mstn null mice that display increased muscle mass without fractures, indicating that inhibition of GDF11 impairs bone strength. Together, our findings suggest that GDF11 promotes osteogenesis in contrast to MSTN, and these opposing roles of GDF11 and MSTN must be considered to avoid the detrimental effect of GDF11 inhibition when developing MSTN/GDF11 inhibitors for therapeutic purposes.
Project description:This work provides evidence that the robust myoblast differentiation observed in L6E9 cells is causally linked to deficiency of myostatin, which, conversely, has been found to be expressed in C2C12 cells. However, despite the absence of endogenous myostatin, L6E9 myoblasts expressed functional Activin receptors type II (ActRIIs) and follistatin as well as the highly related TGF-beta members Activins and GDF11, suggesting that in this cell line the regulation of fiber size might be under the control of multiple regulators regardless of myostatin. In line with this hypothesis, delivery of a dominant-negative ActRIIb form or the increase of follistatin, as obtained via Trichostatin treatment or stable transfection of a short human follistatin form, enhanced the L6E9 cell differentiation and further increased the size of myotubes, suggesting that L6E9 myoblasts provide a spontaneous myostatin knock-out in vitro model to study TGF-beta ligands involved in developmental regulation of fiber size.
Project description:Activin receptor type IIB (ActRIIB), a type II TGF-beta serine/threonine kinase receptor, is integral to the activin and myostatin signaling pathway. Ligands such as activin and myostatin bind to activin type II receptors (ActRIIA, ActRIIB), and the GS domains of type I receptors are phosphorylated by type II receptors. Myostatin, a negative regulator of skeletal muscle growth, is regarded as a potential therapeutic target and binds to ActRIIB effectively, and to a lesser extent, to ActRIIA. The high-resolution structure of human ActRIIB kinase domain in complex with adenine establishes the conserved bilobal architecture consistent with all other catalytic kinase domains. The crystal structure reveals that the adenine has a considerably different orientation from that of the adenine moiety of ATP observed in other kinase structures due to the lack of an interaction by ribose-phosphate moiety and the presence of tautomers with two different protonation states at the N9 nitrogen. Although the Lys217-Glu230 salt bridge is absent, the unphosphorylated activation loop of ActRIIB adopts a conformation similar to that of the fully active form. Unlike the type I TGF-beta receptor, where a partially conserved Ser280 is a gatekeeper residue, the AcRIIB structure possesses Thr265 with a back pocket supported by Phe247. Taken together, these structural features provide a molecular basis for understanding the coupled activity and recognition specificity for human ActRIIB kinase domain and for the rational design of selective inhibitors.