Understanding the functional relevance of G protein-coupled receptor (GPCR) homodimerization has been limited by the insufficient tools to assess asymmetric signaling occurring within dimers comprised of the same receptor type. We present unmatched bivalent ligands (UmBLs) to study the asymmetric function of melanocortin homodimers. UmBLs contain one agonist and one antagonist pharmacophore designed to target a melanocortin homodimer such that one receptor is occupied by an agonist and the other receptor by an antagonist pharmacophore. First-in-class biased UmBLs (BUmBLs) targeting the human melanocortin-4 receptor (hMC4R) were discovered. The BUmBLs displayed biased agonism by potently stimulating cAMP signaling (EC 50 ∼ 2-6 nM) but minimally activating the β-arrestin recruitment pathway (≤55% maximum signal at 10 μM). To our knowledge, we report the first single-compound strategy to pharmacologically target melanocortin receptor allosteric signaling that occurs between homodimers that can be applied straightforwardly in vitro and in vivo to other GPCR systems.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This work has been supported by NIH grant R01DK091906 (C.H.-L.). C.J.L. and A.T.Z. was provided support from the University of Minnesota Doctoral Dissertation Fellowship. C.J.L. additionally was provided the University of Minnesota College of Pharmacy Olsteins Graduate Fellowship. We also acknowledge the receipt of a 2017 Wallin Neuroscience Discovery Fund Award.
© 2018 American Chemical Society.