Multiresidue Tetrapeptide Substitutions Yield a 140-fold Selective Melanocortin-3 over Melanocortin-4 Receptor Agonist

Mark D. Ericson, Romessa Shaikh, Courtney Larson, Katie T. Freeman, Carrie Haskell-Luevano

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


The five melanocortin receptors regulate numerous physiological functions. Although many ligands have been developed for the melanocortin-4 receptor (MC4R), the melanocortin-3 receptor (MC3R) has been less-well characterized, in part due to the lack of potent, selective tool compounds. Previously an Ac-His-Arg-(pI)DPhe-Tic-NH2 scaffold, inverting the Phe-Arg motif of the native melanocortin signal sequence, was identified to possess mMC3R over mMC4R selective agonist activity. In this study, a library of 12 compounds derived from this scaffold was synthesized and assayed at the mouse melanocortin receptors (MCRs), utilizing substitutions previously shown to increase mMC3R agonist potency and/or selectivity. One compound (8, Ac-Val-Gln-DBip-DTic-NH2) was identified as greater than 140-fold selective for the mMC3R over the mMC4R, possessed 70 nM potency at the mMC3R, and partially stimulated the mMC4R at 100 μM concentrations without antagonist activity. This pharmacological profile may be useful in developing new tool and therapeutic ligands that selective signal through the MC3R.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)115-120
Number of pages6
JournalACS Medicinal Chemistry Letters
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 14 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work has been supported by NIH Grant R01DK091906 (CHL) and by an award through the University of Minnesota’s Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program (RS).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 American Chemical Society.


  • MC3R
  • polypharmacology
  • selective agonist
  • tetrapeptide


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