Identification of Putative Agouti-Related Protein(87-132)-Melanocortin-4 Receptor Interactions by Homology Molecular Modeling and Validation Using Chimeric Peptide Ligands

Andrzej Wilczynski, Xiang S. Wang, Christine G. Joseph, Zhimin Xiang, Rayna M. Bauzo, Joseph W. Scott, Nicholas B. Sorensen, Amanda M. Shaw, William J. Millard, Nigel G. Richards, Carrie Haskell-Luevano

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

62 Scopus citations


Agouti-related protein (AGRP) is one of only two naturally known antagonists of G-protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) identified to date. Specifically, AGRP antagonizes the brain melanocortin-3 and -4 receptors involved in energy homeostasis. α-Melanocyte stimulating hormone (α-MSH) is one of the known endogenous agonists for these melanocortin receptors. Insight into putative interactions between the antagonist AGRP amino acids with the melanocortin-4 receptor (MC4R) may be important for the design of unique ligands for the treatment of obesity related diseases and is currently lacking in the literature. A three-dimensional homology molecular model of the mouse MC4 receptor complex with the hAGRP-(87-132) ligand docked into the receptor has been developed to identify putative antagonist ligand-receptor interactions. Key putative AGRP-MC4R interactions include the Arg111 of hAGRP(87-132) interacting in a negatively charged pocket located in a cavity formed by transmembrane spanning (TM) helices 1, 2, 3, and 7, capped by the acidic first extracellular loop (EL1) and specifically with the conserved melanocortin receptor residues mMC4R Glu92 (TM2), mMC4R Asp114 (TM3), and mMC4R Asp118 (TM3). Additionally, Phe112 and Phe113 of hAGRP(87-132) putatively interact with an aromatic hydrophobic pocket formed by the mMC4 receptor residues Phe176 (TM4), Phe193 (TM5), Phe253 (TM6), and Phe254 (TM6). To validate the AGRP-mMC4R model complex presented herein from a ligand perspective, we generated nine chimeric peptide ligands based on a modified antagonist template of the hAGRP-(109-118) (Tyr-c[Asp-Arg-Phe-Phe-Asn-Ala-Phe-Dpr]-Tyr-NH2). In these chimeric ligands, the antagonist AGRP Arg-Phe-Phe residues were replaced by the melanocortin agonist His/D-Phe-Arg-Trp amino acids. These peptides resulted in agonist activity at the mouse melanocortin receptors (mMC1R and mMC3-5Rs). The most notable results include the identification of a novel subnanomolar melanocortin peptide template Tyr-c[Asp-His-DPhe-Arg-Trp-Asn-Ala-Phe-Dpr]-Tyr-NH2 that is equipotent to α-MSH at the mMC1, mMC3, and mMC5 receptors but is 30-fold more potent than α-MSH at the mMC4R. Additionally, these studies identified a new and novel >200-fold MC4R versus MC3R selective peptide Tyr-c [Asp-D-Phe-Arg-Trp-Asn-Ala-Phe-Dpr]-Tyr-NH2 template. Furthermore, when the His-DPhe-Arg-Trp sequence is used to replace the hAGRP Arg-Phe-Phe residues in the "mini"-AGRP (hAGRP87-120, C105A) template, a potent nanomolar agonist resulted at the mMC1R and MC3-5Rs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2194-2207
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of medicinal chemistry
Issue number9
StatePublished - Apr 22 2004


Dive into the research topics of 'Identification of Putative Agouti-Related Protein(87-132)-Melanocortin-4 Receptor Interactions by Homology Molecular Modeling and Validation Using Chimeric Peptide Ligands'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this