In JoVE (1)

Other Publications (42)

Articles by Naiming Zhou in JoVE

Other articles by Naiming Zhou on PubMed

Exploring the Stereochemistry of CXCR4-peptide Recognition and Inhibiting HIV-1 Entry with D-peptides Derived from Chemokines

The Journal of Biological Chemistry. May, 2002  |  Pubmed ID: 11880384

Chemokine receptor CXCR4 plays an important role in the immune system and the cellular entry of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1). To probe the stereospecificity of the CXCR4-ligand interface, d-amino acid peptides derived from natural chemokines, viral macrophage inflammatory protein II (vMIP-II) and stromal cell-derived factor-1alpha (SDF-1alpha), were synthesized and found to compete with (125)I-SDF-1alpha and monoclonal antibody 12G5 binding to CXCR4 with potency and selectivity comparable with or higher than their l-peptide counterparts. This was surprising because of the profoundly different side chain topologies between d- and l-enantiomers, which circular dichroism spectroscopy showed adopt mirror image conformations. Further direct binding experiments using d-peptide labeled with fluorescein (designated as FAM-DV1) demonstrated that d- and l-peptides shared similar or at least overlapping binding site(s) on the CXCR4 receptor. Structure-activity analyses of related peptide analogs of mixed chiralities or containing alanine replacements revealed specific residues at the N-terminal half of the peptides as key binding determinants. Acting as CXCR4 antagonists and with much higher biological stability than l-counterparts, the d-peptides showed significant activity in inhibiting the replication of CXCR4-dependent HIV-1 strains. These results show the remarkable stereochemical flexibility of the CXCR4-peptide interface. Further studies to understand the mechanism of this unusual feature of the CXCR4 binding surface might aid the development of novel CXCR4-binding molecules like the d-peptides that have high affinity and stability.

Cell-cell Fusion and Internalization of the CNS-based, HIV-1 Co-receptor, APJ

Virology. Mar, 2003  |  Pubmed ID: 12667811

APJ, a member of the human G protein-coupled seven-transmembrane receptor family, has been shown to serve as a coreceptor for the entry of human immunodeficiency virus type I (HIV-1) and simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV), and it is dramatically expressed in central nervous system (CNS)-based cells. In this study, expression of APJ tagged with the green fluorescent protein (GFP) and a fluorescent peptide, 5-carboxyfluorescein (5-CF) conjugated Apelin-13, were utilized for studying receptor internalization and recycling, in stably expressing indicator cells, human neurons, primary CNS microvascular endothelial cells (MVECs), and astrocytes. Fusion of the C-terminus of APJ to the N-terminus of GFP did not alter receptor ligand binding and functions, including signaling and internalization. Using 293 cells stably expressing APJ-GFP, we demonstrated that rapid internalization of the APJ receptor was induced by stimulation with Apelin-36 and Apelin-13, in a dose-dependent manner. Furthermore, investigations showed that the internalized APJ was colocalized with transferrin receptors, suggesting that the internalization of APJ induced by Apelin is likely to be via clathrin-coated pits. Interestingly, we found that the internalized APJ molecules were recycled to the cell surface within 60 min after removal of Apelin-13, but most of the internalized APJ still remained in the cytoplasm, even 2 h after washout of Apelin-36. The intact cytoplasmic C-terminal domain was found to be required for ligand-induced APJ internalization. Human neurons were dramatically stained by the APJ-binding fluorescent peptides. Primary human fetal astrocytes were less strongly labeled with 5-CF-Apelin-13, and in primary human CNS MVECs only weak distribution of green fluorescence specific for APJ in the cytoplasm was observed. Apelin-36 blocked cell membrane fusion mostly due to steric interference, with only a very modest effect on receptor internalization. The CNS represents a unique reservoir site for HIV-1. As such, molecular therapeutics and small molecular inhibitors of HIV-1 entry via this unique CNS receptor are now able to be rationally designed.

Binding of ALX40-4C to APJ, a CNS-based Receptor, Inhibits Its Utilization As a Co-receptor by HIV-1

Virology. Jul, 2003  |  Pubmed ID: 12890632

APJ, a G protein-coupled seven-transmembrane receptor, has been shown to serve as a co-receptor for the entry of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1), and it is dramatically expressed in central nervous system (CNS)-based cells. ALX40-4C was identified as a small-molecule antagonist of the chemokine receptor CXCR4, which can specifically inhibit HIV-1 entry via this co-receptor. In this study, we demonstrated that ALX40-4C inhibited both APJ- and CXCR4/APJ-mediated cell membrane fusion in a dose-dependent manner. In competitive binding assays, (125)I-Apelin13 was replaced by ALX40-4C with an IC(50) of 2.9 microM, as compared with an IC(50) of 0.2 nM for Apelin13. Furthermore, ALX40-4C could block ligand-induced APJ internalization and signaling. ALX40-4C, as an antagonist to APJ, directly binds to and prevents use of APJ as a HIV-1 co-receptor. Thus, ALX-4C has potential utility for further elucidation of HIV-1 neuropathogenesis and therapy of HIV-1-induced encephalopathy.

Structural and Functional Study of the Apelin-13 Peptide, an Endogenous Ligand of the HIV-1 Coreceptor, APJ

Biochemistry. Sep, 2003  |  Pubmed ID: 12939143

The APJ receptor is widely expressed in the human central nervous system (CNS). Apelin was recently identified as the endogenous peptidic ligand for human APJ. Studies with animal models suggested that APJ and apelin play an important role in the hypothalamic regulation of water intake and the endocrine axis, in the regulation of blood pressure, and in cardiac contractility. Apelin has been found to block the activity of APJ as a human immunodeficiency virus type I (HIV-1) coreceptor. In this study, we combined chemical synthetic approaches with alanine substitution to evaluate the structural requirements for interactions with the APJ receptor. We demonstrated that apelin peptides in aqueous solution adopt a random conformation, and the positive charge and hydrophobic residues of apelin-13 play important roles in interactions with the APJ receptor. We have observed an important correlation between receptor binding affinity and cell-cell fusion inhibitory activity. The elucidation of structural requirements of apelin-13 in its interaction with the APJ receptor is critical for further investigation of apelin-APJ functions in vivo and in the design of small molecular inhibitors for potential treatment of HIV-1 infection in the CNS.

The N-terminal Domain of APJ, a CNS-based Coreceptor for HIV-1, is Essential for Its Receptor Function and Coreceptor Activity

Virology. Dec, 2003  |  Pubmed ID: 14675627

The human APJ, a G protein-coupled seven-transmembrane receptor, has been found to be dramatically expressed in the human central nervous system (CNS) and also to serve as a coreceptor for the entry of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) and simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV). Studies with animal models suggested that APJ and its natural ligand, apelin, play an important role in the central control of body fluid homeostasis, and in regulation of blood pressure and cardiac contractility. In this study, we characterize the structural and functional determinants of the N-terminal domain of APJ in interactions with its natural ligand and HIV-1 envelope glycoprotein. We demonstrate that the second 10 residues of the N-terminal domain of APJ are critical for association with apelin, while the first 20 amino acids play an important role in supporting cell-cell fusion mediated by HIV-1 gp120. With site-directed mutagenesis, we have identified that the negatively charged amino acid residues Glu20 and Asp23 are involved in receptor and coreceptor functions, but residues Tyr10 and Tyr11 substantially contribute to coreceptor function for both T-tropic (CXCR4) and dual-tropic (CXCR4 and CCR5) HIV-1 isolates. Thus, this study provides potentially important information for further characterizing APJ-apelin functions in vitro and in vivo and designing small molecules for treatment of HIV-1 infection in the CNS.

A DEAD Box Protein Facilitates HIV-1 Replication As a Cellular Co-factor of Rev

Virology. Dec, 2004  |  Pubmed ID: 15567440

HIV-1 Rev escorts unspliced viral mRNAs out of the nucleus of infected cells, which allows formation of infectious HIV-1 virions. We have identified a putative DEAD box (Asp-Glu-Ala-Asp) RNA helicase, DDX1, as a cellular co-factor of Rev, through yeast and mammalian two-hybrid systems using the N-terminal motif of Rev as "bait". DDX1 is not a functional homolog of HIV-1 Rev, but down-regulation of DDX1 resulted in an alternative splicing pattern of Rev-responsive element (RRE)-containing mRNA, and attenuation of Gag p24 antigen production from HLfb rev- cells rescued by exogenous Rev. Co-transfection of a DDX1 expression vector with HIV-1 significantly increased viral production. DDX1 binding to Rev, as well as to the RRE, strongly suggest that DDX1 affects Rev function through the Rev-RRE axis. Moreover, down-regulation of DDX1 altered the steady state subcellular distribution of Rev, from nuclear/nucleolar to cytoplasmic dominance. These findings indicate that DDX1 is a critical cellular co-factor for Rev function, which maintains the proper subcellular distribution of this lentiviral regulatory protein. Therefore, alterations in DDX1-Rev interactions could induce HIV-1 persistence and targeting DDX1 may lead to rationally designed and novel anti-HIV-1 strategies and therapeutics.

Molecular and Functional Characterization of Adipokinetic Hormone Receptor and Its Peptide Ligands in Bombyx Mori

FEBS Letters. May, 2009  |  Pubmed ID: 19345219

Neuropeptides of the adipokinetic hormone (AKH) family are among the best studied hormone peptides, but its signaling pathways remain to be elucidated. In this study, we molecularly characterized the signaling of Bombyx AKH receptor (AKHR) and its peptide ligands in HEK293 cells. In HEK293 cells stably expressing AKHR, AKH1 stimulation not only led to a ligand concentration dependent mobilization of intracellular Ca(2+) and cAMP accumulation, but also elicited transient activation of extracellular signal-regulated kinase 1/2 (ERK1/2) pathway. We observed that AKH receptor was rapidly internalized after AKH1 stimulation. We further demonstrated that AKH2 exhibited high activities in cAMP accumulation and ERK1/2 activation on AKHR comparable to AKH1, whereas AKH3 was much less effective.

An Enzyme-linked Immunosorbent Assay to Compare the Affinity of Chemical Compounds for β-amyloid Peptide As a Monomer

Analytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry. Mar, 2010  |  Pubmed ID: 20135308

Aβ(1-42) is the proteolytic cleavage product of cleavage of the amyloid precursor protein by β- and γ-secretases. The aggregation of Aβ(1-42) plays a causative role in the development of Alzheimer's disease. To lock Aβ(1-42) in a homogenous state, we embedded the Aβ(1-42) sequence in an unstructured region of Bcl-x(L). Both the N-terminus and the C-terminus of Aβ(1-42) were constrained in the disordered region, whereas the conjunction did not introduce any folding to Aβ(1-42) but maintained the sequence as a monomer in solution. With Bcl-x(L)-Aβ(42), we developed an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay to compare the affinity of compounds for monomeric Aβ(1-42). Bcl-x(L)-Aβ(42) was coated on a microplate and this was followed by incubation with different concentrations of compounds. Compounds binding to Leu17-Val24 of Aβ(1-42) inhibited the interaction between Bcl-x(L)-Aβ(42) and antibody 4G8. The method can not only reproduce the activities of the reported Aβ(1-42) inhibitors such as dopamine, tannin, and morin but can also differentiate decoy compounds that do not bind to Aβ(1-42). Remarkably, using this method, we discovered a new inhibitor that binds to monomeric Aβ(1-42) and inhibits Aβ(1-42) fibril formation. As the structure of Bcl-x(L)-Aβ(42) monomer is stable in solution, the assay could be adapted for high-throughput screening with a series of antibodies that bind the different epitopes of Aβ(1-42). In addition, the monomeric form of the Aβ(1-42) sequence in Bcl-x(L)-Aβ(42) would also facilitate the identification of Aβ(1-42) binding partners by coimmunoprecipitation, cocrystallization, surface plasmon resonance technology, or the assay as described here.

Internalization of the Human Nicotinic Acid Receptor GPR109A is Regulated by G(i), GRK2, and Arrestin3

The Journal of Biological Chemistry. Jul, 2010  |  Pubmed ID: 20460384

Nicotinic acid (niacin) has been widely used as a favorable lipid-lowering drug for several decades, and the orphan G protein-coupled receptor GPR109A has been identified to be a receptor for niacin. Mechanistic investigations have shown that as a G(i)-coupled receptor, GPR109A inhibits adenylate cyclase activity upon niacin activation, thereby inhibiting free fatty acid liberation. However, the underlying molecular mechanisms that regulate signaling and internalization of GPR109A remain largely unknown. To further characterize GPR109A internalization, we made a construct to express GPR109A fused with enhanced green fluorescent protein (EGFP) at its carboxyl-terminal end. In stable GPR109A-EGFP-expressing HEK-293 cells, GPR109A-EGFP was mainly localized at the plasma membrane and was rapidly internalized in a dose- and time-dependent manner upon agonist stimulation. GPR109A internalization was completely blocked by hypertonic sucrose, indicating that GPR109A internalizes via the clathrin-coated pit pathway. Further investigation demonstrated that internalized GPR109A was recycled to the cell surface after the removal of agonist, and recycling of the internalized receptors was not blocked by treatment with acidotropic agents, NH(4)Cl and monensin. Pertussis toxin pretreatment not only inhibited forskolin-induced cAMP accumulation and intracellular Ca(2+) mobilization; it also significantly attenuated agonist-promoted GPR109A internalization. Moreover, RNA interference experiments showed that knockdown of GRK2 (G protein-coupled receptor kinase 2) and arrestin3 expression significantly impaired receptor internalization. Taken together, these results indicate that the agonist-induced internalization of GPR109A receptors is regulated by GRK2 and arrestin3 in a pertussis toxin-sensitive manner and that internalized receptor recycling is independent of endosomal acidification.

Structural Optimization and Biological Evaluation of Substituted Bisphenol A Derivatives As Beta-amyloid Peptide Aggregation Inhibitors

Journal of Medicinal Chemistry. Aug, 2010  |  Pubmed ID: 20684593

The aggregation of Abeta is a crucial step in the etiology of Alzheimer's disease. Our previous work showed that Abeta undergoes alpha-helix/beta-sheet intermediate structures during the conformational transition, and an Abeta aggregation inhibitor (1) was discovered by targeting the intermediates. Here, structure optimization toward compound 1 was performed and 34 novel derivatives were designed and synthesized. Nine compounds showed more effective inhibitory activity than the hit compound 1 in ThT fluorescence assay. Among them, compound 43 demonstrated more excellent inhibitory potency, which not only can suppress the aggregation of Abeta but also can dissolve the preformed fibrils as shown by CD spectroscopy, PICUP and AFM assays. Cellular assay indicated that 43 has no toxicity to neuronal cells, moreover, can effectively inhibit Abeta(1-42)-induced neutrotoxicity and increase the cell viability. Together, on the basis of these positive results, these novel chemical structures may provide a promising potential for therapeutic applications in AD and other types of neurodegenerative disorders.

The G Protein-coupled Receptors in the Silkworm, Bombyx Mori

Insect Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. Aug, 2010  |  Pubmed ID: 20685615

G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) are the largest and most versatile family of transmembrane receptors in the cell, occupying the highest hierarchical positions in the regulation of many physiological processes. Although they have been extensively studied in a number of model insects, there have been few investigations of GPCRs in large Lepidopterans, such as Bombyx mori, an organism that provides a means to perform detailed tissue expression analyses, which may help to characterize GPCRs and their ligands. In addition, B. mori, also known as the silkworm, is an insect of substantial economic importance, due to its use in silk production and traditional medicines. In this work, we computationally identified 90 putative GPCRs in B. mori, 33 of which represent novel proteins. These GPCRs were annotated and compared with their homologs in Drosophila melanogaster and Anopheles gambiae. Phylogenetics analyses of the GPCRs from these three insects showed that GPCRs may easily duplicate or disappear during insect evolution, especially in the neuropeptide and protein hormone receptor subfamily. Interestingly, we observed a decrease in the quantity and diversity of the stress-tolerance gene, Methuselah, in B. mori, which may be related to its long history of domestication. Moreover, the presence of many Bombyx-specific GPCRs suggests that neither Drosophila nor Anopheles is good representatives for the GPCRs in the Class Insecta.

Functional Characterization of a Naturally Occurring Trans-splicing Intein from Synechococcus Elongatus in a Mammalian Cell System

Analytical Biochemistry. Dec, 2010  |  Pubmed ID: 20727340

We have cloned and characterized a naturally occurring split mini-DnaE intein capable of protein trans-splicing in the cyanobacterium Synechococcus elongatus (Sel DnaE intein). Sel DnaE intein is homologous to Synechocystissp. PCC6803 (Ssp) DnaE intein and Nostoc punctiforme (Npu) DnaE intein, with a protein sequence identity of 60% for the N-terminal part of intein and 61% for the C-terminal part of intein. Our results demonstrate that the split reporters, split Renilla luciferase (Rluc) and enhanced green fluorescent protein (EGFP), can be reconstituted via Sel DnaE intein-mediated trans-splicing in mammalian cells. Based on Sel DnaE intein-mediated reconstitution of split Rluc, a human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) entry-mimicking cell-cell fusion assay was developed and validated as a useful assay for screening and pharmacologically characterizing potential HIV entry-targeting inhibitors.

Bombyx Adipokinetic Hormone Receptor Activates Extracellular Signal-regulated Kinase 1 and 2 Via G Protein-dependent PKA and PKC but β-arrestin-independent Pathways

Biochemistry. Dec, 2010  |  Pubmed ID: 21126059

Neuropeptides of the adipokinetic hormone (AKH) family are among the best studied hormone peptides. They play important roles in insect hemolymph sugar homeostasis, larval lipolysis, and storage-fat mobilization. Mechanistic investigations have shown that, upon AKH stimulation, adipokinetic hormone receptor (AKHR) couples to a Gs protein and enhances adenylate cyclase activity, leading to intracellular cAMP accumulation. However, the underlying molecular mechanism by which this signaling pathway connects to extracellular signal-regulated kinase 1/2 (ERK1/2) remains to be elucidated. Using HEK293 cells stably or transiently expressing AKHR, we demonstrated that activation of AKHR elicited transient phosphorylation of ERK1/2. Our investigation indicated that AKHR-mediated activation of ERK1/2 was significantly inhibited by H-89 (protein kinase A inhibitor), Go6983, and GF109203X (protein kinase C inhibitors) but not by U73122 (PLC inhibitor) or FIPI (PLD inhibitor). Moreover, AKHR-induced ERK1/2 phosphorylation was blocked by the calcium chelators EGTA and BAPTA-AM. Furthermore, ERK1/2 activation in both transiently and stably AKHR-expressing HEK293 cells was found to be sensitive to pretreatment of pertussis toxin, whereas AKHR-mediated ERK1/2 activation was insensitive to siRNA-induced knockdown of β-arrestins and to pretreatment of inhibitors of EGFR, Src, and PI3K. On the basis of our data, we propose that activated AKHR signals to ERK1/2 primarily via PKA- and calcium-involved PKC-dependent pathways. Our current study provides the first in-depth study defining the mechanisms of AKH-mediated ERK activation through the Bombyx AKHR.

Identification and Characterization of INCB9471, an Allosteric Noncompetitive Small-molecule Antagonist of C-C Chemokine Receptor 5 with Potent Inhibitory Activity Against Monocyte Migration and HIV-1 Infection

The Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics. Jul, 2011  |  Pubmed ID: 21459966

C-C chemokine receptor 5 (CCR5) is a clinically proven target for inhibition of HIV-1 infection and a potential target for various inflammatory diseases. In this article, we describe 5-[(4-{(3S)-4-[(1R,2R)-2-ethoxy-5-(trifluoromethyl)-2,3-dihydro-1H-inden-1-yl]-3-methylpiperazin-1-yl}-4-methylpiperidin-1-yl)carbonyl]-4,6-dimethylpyrimidine dihydrochloride (INCB9471), a potent and specific inhibitor of human CCR5 that has been proven to be safe and efficacious in viral load reduction in phase I and II human clinical trails. INCB9471 was identified using a primary human monocyte-based radioligand competition binding assay. It potently inhibited macrophage inflammatory protein-1β-induced monocyte migration and infection of peripheral blood mononuclear cells by a panel of R5-HIV-1 strains. The results from binding and signaling studies using incremental amounts of INCB9471 demonstrated INCB9471 as a noncompetitive CCR5 inhibitor. The CCR5 residues that are essential for interaction with INCB9471 were identified by site-specific mutagenesis studies. INCB9471 rapidly associates with but slowly dissociates from CCR5. When INCB9471 was compared with three CCR5 antagonists that had been tested in clinical trials, the potency of INCB9471 in blocking CCR5 ligand binding was similar to those of 4,6-dimethyl-5-{[4-methyl-4-((3S)-3-methyl-4-{(1R0-2-(methyloxy)-1-[4-(trifluoromethyl) phenyl]ethyl}-1-piperazingyl)-1-piperidinyl]carbonyl}pyrimidine (SCH-D; vicriviroc), 4-{[4-({(3R)-1-butyl-3-[(R)-cyclohexyl(hydroxyl)methyl]-2, 5-dioxo-1,4,9-triazaspiro[5.5]undec-9-yl}methyl)phenyl]oxy}benzoic acid hydrochloride (873140; aplaviroc), and 4,4-difluoro-N-((1S)-3-{(3-endo)-3-[3-methyl-5-(1-methylethyl)-4H-1,2,4-triazol-4-yl]-8-azabicyclo[3.2.1]oct-8-yl}-1-phenylpropyl)cyclohexanecarboxamide (UK427857; maraviroc). Its inhibitory activity against CCR5-mediated Ca(2+) mobilization was also similar to those of SCH-D and 873140. Further analysis suggested that INCB9471 and UK427857 may have different binding sites on CCR5. The significance of two CCR5 antagonists with different binding sites is discussed in the context of potentially overcoming drug-resistant HIV-1 strains.

Identification of Distinct C-terminal Domains of the Bombyx Adipokinetic Hormone Receptor That Are Essential for Receptor Export, Phosphorylation and Internalization

Cellular Signalling. Sep, 2011  |  Pubmed ID: 21536126

Neuropeptides of the adipokinetic hormone (AKH) family play important roles in insect hemolymph sugar homeostasis, larval lipolysis and storage-fat mobilization. Our previous studies have shown that the adipokinetic hormone receptor (AKHR), a Gs-coupled receptor, induces intracellular cAMP accumulation, calcium mobilization and ERK1/2 phosphorylation upon agonist stimulation. However, the underlying molecular mechanisms that regulate the internalization and desensitization of AKHR remain largely unknown. In the current study we made a construct to express AKHR fused with enhanced green fluorescent protein (EGFP) at its C-terminal end to further characterize AKHR internalization. In stable AKHR-EGFP-expressing HEK-293 cells, AKHR-EGFP was mainly localized at the plasma membrane and was rapidly internalized in a dose- and time-dependent manner via the clathrin-coated pit pathway upon agonist stimulation, and internalized receptors were slowly recovered to the cell surface after the removal of AKH peptides. The results derived from RNA interference and arrestin translocation demonstrated that G protein-coupled receptor kinase 2 and 5 (GRK2/5) and β-arrestin2 were involved in receptor phosphorylation and internalization. Furthermore, experiments using deletion and site-directed mutagenesis strategies identified the three residues (Thr356, Ser359 and Thr362) responsible for GRK-mediated phosphorylation and internalization and the C-terminal domain from residue-322 to residue-342 responsible for receptor export from ER. This is the first detailed investigation of the internalization and trafficking of insect G protein-coupled receptors.

Development of a Novel DnaE Intein-based Assay for Quantitative Analysis of G-protein-coupled Receptor Internalization

Analytical Biochemistry. Oct, 2011  |  Pubmed ID: 21726524

G-protein-coupled receptor (GPCR) internalization provides a G-protein-subtype-independent method for assaying agonist-stimulated activation of receptors. We have developed a novel assay that allows quantitative analysis of GPCR internalization based on the interaction between activated GPCRs and β-arrestin2 and on Nostoc punctiforme DnaE intein-mediated reconstitution of Renilla luciferase fragments. This assay system was validated using four functionally divergent GPCRs treated with agonists and antagonists. The EC(50) values obtained for the known agonists and antagonists are in close agreement with the results of previous reports, indicating that this assay system is sensitive enough to permit quantification of GPCR internalization. This rapid and quantitative assay, therefore, could be used universally as a functional cell-based assay for GPCR high-throughput screening during drug discovery.

Distinct Kinetic and Spatial Patterns of Protein Kinase C (PKC)- and Epidermal Growth Factor Receptor (EGFR)-dependent Activation of Extracellular Signal-regulated Kinases 1 and 2 by Human Nicotinic Acid Receptor GPR109A

The Journal of Biological Chemistry. Sep, 2011  |  Pubmed ID: 21768093

Nicotinic acid (niacin) has been widely used as a lipid-lowering drug for several decades, and recently, orphan G protein-coupled receptor GPR109A has been identified as a receptor for niacin. Mechanistic investigations have shown that, upon niacin activation, GPR109A couples to a G(i) protein and inhibits adenylate cyclase activity, leading to inhibition of liberation of free fatty acid. However, the underlying molecular mechanisms for GPR109A signaling remain largely unknown. Using CHO-K1 cells stably expressing GPR109A and A431 cells, which are a human epidermoid cell line with high levels of endogenous expression of functional GPR109A receptors, we found that activation of extracellular signal-regulated kinases 1 and 2 (ERK1/2) by niacin was rapid, peaking at 5 min, and was significantly blocked by pertussis toxin. Furthermore, time course experiments with different kinase inhibitors demonstrated that GPR109A induced ERK1/2 activation via the matrix metalloproteinase/epidermal growth factor receptor transactivation pathway at both early and later time points (2-5 min); this pathway was distinct from the PKC pathway-mediated ERK1/2 phosphorylation that occurs at early time points (≤2 min) in response to niacin. Overexpression of Gβγ subunit scavengers βARK1-CT and the Gα subunit of transducin led to a significant reduction of ERK1/2 phosphorylation, suggesting a critical role for βγ subunits in GPR109A-activated ERK1/2 phosphorylation. Using arrestin-2/3-specific siRNA and an internalization-deficient GPR109A mutant, we found that arrestin-2 and arrestin-3 were not involved in GPR109A-mediated ERK1/2 activation. In conclusion, our findings demonstrate that upon binding to niacin GPR109A receptors initially activate G(i), leading to dissociation of the Gβγ subunit from activated G(i), and subsequently induce ERK1/2 activation via two distinct pathways, one PKC-dependent pathway occurring at a peak time of ≤2 min and the other matrix metalloproteinase-dependent growth factor receptor transactivation occurring at both early and later time points (2-5 min).

Identification and Functional Characterization of Two Orphan G-protein-coupled Receptors for Adipokinetic Hormones from Silkworm Bombyx Mori

The Journal of Biological Chemistry. Dec, 2011  |  Pubmed ID: 22009754

Adipokinetic hormones (AKHs) are the best studied insect neuropeptides with the function of mobilizing lipids and carbohydrates during energy-expensive activities and modulating fundamental physiological processes, such as sugar homeostasis, lipid metabolism, and reproduction. Three distinct cDNAs encoding the prepro-Bombyx AKH1-3 have been cloned and confirmed by mass spectrometric methods. Our previous research suggested the Bombyx AKH receptor is activated by AKH1 and AKH2 with high affinity but by AKH3 with quite low affinity. In this study, using stable functional expression of the receptors in HEK293 cells, we have now identified AKH3 as a specific ligand for two orphan G-protein-coupled receptors, and we therefore named them AKHR2a and AKHR2b, respectively. We demonstrated that both AKHR2a and AKHR2b were activated by AKH3 at high affinity and by AKH1 and AKH2 at low affinity, leading to an increase of intracellular cAMP levels and activation of ERK1/2 and receptor internalization, but they were not activated by Bombyx corazonin. Conversely, the Bombyx corazonin receptor was activated by corazonin but not by AKH1-3. Quantitative RT-PCR revealed that AKHR2a and AKHR2b were both highly expressed in the testis but were also detected at low levels in other tissues. These results will lead to a better understanding of the AKH/AKHR system in the regulation of fundamental physiological processes.

Searching for the Multi-Target-Directed Ligands Against Alzheimer's Disease: Discovery of Quinoxaline-based Hybrid Compounds with AChE, H₃R and BACE 1 Inhibitory Activities

Bioorganic & Medicinal Chemistry. Dec, 2011  |  Pubmed ID: 22019465

A novel series of quinoxaline derivatives, as Multi-Target-Directed Ligands (MTDLs) for AD treatment, were designed by lending the core structural elements required for H(3)R antagonists and hybridizing BACE 1 inhibitor 1 with AChE inhibitor BYYT-25. A virtual database consisting of quinoxaline derivatives was first screened on a pharmacophore model of BACE 1 inhibitors, and then filtered by a molecular docking model of AChE. Seventeen quinoxaline derivatives with high score values were picked out, synthesized and evaluated for their biological activities. Compound 11a, the most effective MTDL, showed the potent activity to H(3)R/AChE/BACE 1 (H(3)R antagonism, IC(50)=280.0 ± 98.0 nM; H(3)R inverse agonism, IC(50)=189.3 ± 95.7 nM; AChE, IC(50)=483 ± 5 nM; BACE 1, 46.64±2.55% inhibitory rate at 20 μM) and high selectivity over H(1)R/H(2)R/H(4)R. Furthermore, the protein binding patterns between 11a and AChE/BACE 1 showed that it makes several essential interactions with the enzymes.

An Update of Novel Screening Methods for GPCR in Drug Discovery

Expert Opinion on Drug Discovery. Sep, 2012  |  Pubmed ID: 22716301

G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) are the largest and most versatile group of cytomembrane receptors, comprising of approximately 300 non-sensory and druggable members. Traditional GPCR drug screening is based on radiometric competition binding assays, which are expensive and hazardous to human health. Furthermore, the paradox of high investment and low output, in terms of new drugs, highlights the need for more efficient and effective drug screening methods.

Identification and Characterization of ZEL-H16 As a Novel Agonist of the Histamine H3 Receptor

PloS One. 2012  |  Pubmed ID: 22870296

The histamine H3 receptor (H3R) has been recognized as a promising target for the treatment of various central and peripheral nervous system diseases. In this study, a non-imidazole compound, ZEL-H16, was identified as a novel histamine H3 receptor agonist. ZEL-H16 was found to bind to human H3R with a Ki value of approximately 2.07 nM and 4.36 nM to rat H3R. Further characterization indicated that ZEL-H16 behaved as a partial agonist on the inhibition of forskolin-stimulated cAMP accumulation (the efficacy was 60% of that of histamine) and activation of ERK1/2 signaling (the efficacy was 50% of that of histamine) at H3 receptors, but acted as a full agonist just like histamin in the guinea-pig ileum contraction assay. These effects were blocked by pertussis toxin and H3 receptor specific antagonist thioperamide. ZEL-H16 showed no agonist or antagonist activities at the cloned human histamine H1, H2, and H4 receptors and other biogenic amine GPCRs in the CRE-driven reporter assay. Furthermore, our present data demonstrated that treatment of ZEL-H16 resulted in intensive H3 receptor internalization and delayed recycling to the cell surface as compared to that of control with treatment of histamine. Thus, ZEL-H16 is a novel and potent nonimidazole agonist of H3R, which might serve as a pharmacological tool for future investigations or as possible therapeutic agent of H3R.

Identification and Characterization of Distinct C-terminal Domains of the Human Hydroxycarboxylic Acid Receptor-2 That Are Essential for Receptor Export, Constitutive Activity, Desensitization, and Internalization

Molecular Pharmacology. Dec, 2012  |  Pubmed ID: 22962331

The human hydroxycarboxylic acid receptor 2 (HCA₂), also known as GPR109A and HM74a, was first identified as a niacin receptor and has recently received significant attention because of its potential to clinically modify plasma lipids in a favorable manner. Our recent studies have demonstrated that the niacin-induced internalization of HCA₂ receptors is regulated by G protein-coupled receptor kinase (GRK) 2 and arrestin3 and that internalized receptors rapidly recycle back to the cell surface. The investigation presented here used a combination of amino acid deletion and site-directed mutagenesis to identify structural and functional domains within the HCA₂ C terminus and explore their potential roles in receptor phosphorylation, desensitization, and internalization. We first constructed four mutants with deletions of 10 to 15 amino acids each that were distinct from truncated mutants. We successfully identified different domains responsible for receptor export, constitutive activity, desensitization, phosphorylation, and internalization. We also generated a comprehensive series of alanine substitution mutants, replacing conserved serine and threonine residues in the C terminus with alanine residues to pinpoint the key residues that are essential for GRK2-mediated phosphorylation and arrestin3 association. Moreover, we found that a sequence from residues 329 to 343 in the C-terminal tail of HCA₂ plays a crucial role in keeping HCA₂ in an inactive conformation. These data demonstrate the importance of distinct domains within the C terminus of HCA₂ for receptor cell surface expression, desensitization, and internalization and phosphorylation and stabilization of an inactive receptor conformation.

Design, Synthesis and Biological Evaluation of Novel Piperazine Derivatives As CCR5 Antagonists

PloS One. 2013  |  Pubmed ID: 23308267

By using a fragment-assembly strategy and bioisosteric-replacement principle, a series of novel piperazine derivatives were designed, synthesized, and evaluated for their cellular target-effector fusion activities and in vitro antiviral activities against HIV-1. Preliminary structure-activity relationships (SARs) of target compounds were concluded in this study, and five compounds were found to exhibited medium to potent CCR5 fusion activities with IC(50) values in low micromolar level. Among evaluated compounds, 23 h was found to be a CCR5 antagonist with an IC(50) value of 6.29 µM and an anti-HIV-1 inhibitor with an IC(50) value of 0.44 µM.

Specific Activation of the G Protein-coupled Receptor BNGR-A21 by the Neuropeptide Corazonin from the Silkworm, Bombyx Mori, Dually Couples to the G(q) and G(s) Signaling Cascades

The Journal of Biological Chemistry. Apr, 2013  |  Pubmed ID: 23457297

Corazonin, an undecapeptide neurohormone sharing a highly conserved amino acid sequence across Insecta, plays different physiological roles in the regulation of heart contraction rates, silk spinning rates, the induction of dark color and morphometric phase changes, and ecdysis. Corazonin receptors have been identified in Drosophila melanogaster, Manduca sexta, and Musca domestica. However, detailed information on the signaling and major physiological functions of corazonin and its receptor is largely unknown. In the current study, using both the mammalian cell line HEK293 and insect cell lines BmN and Sf21, we paired the Bombyx corazonin neuropeptide as a specific endogenous ligand for the Bombyx neuropeptide G protein-coupled receptor A21 (BNGR-A21), and we therefore designated this receptor as BmCrzR. Further characterization indicated that synthetic BmCrz demonstrated a high affinity for and activated BmCrzR, resulting in intracellular cAMP accumulation, Ca(2+) mobilization, and ERK1/2 phosphorylation via the Gq- and Gs-coupled signaling pathways. The direct interaction of BmCrzR with BmCrz was confirmed by a rhodamine-labeled BmCrz peptide. Moreover, experiments with double-stranded RNA and synthetic peptide injection suggested a possible role of BmCrz/BmCrzR in the regulation of larval growth and spinning rate. Our present results provide the first in-depth information on BmCrzR-mediated signaling for further elucidation of the BmCrz/BmCrzR system in the regulation of fundamental physiological processes.

The Second Intracellular Loop of the Human Cannabinoid CB2 Receptor Governs G Protein Coupling in Coordination with the Carboxyl Terminal Domain

PloS One. 2013  |  Pubmed ID: 23667597

The major effects of cannabinoids and endocannabinoids are mediated via two G protein-coupled receptors, CB1 and CB2, elucidation of the mechanism and structural determinants of the CB2 receptor coupling with G proteins will have a significant impact on drug discovery. In the present study, we systematically investigated the role of the intracellular loops in the interaction of the CB2 receptor with G proteins using chimeric receptors alongside the characterization of cAMP accumulation and ERK1/2 phosphorylation. We provided evidence that ICL2 was significantly involved in G protein coupling in coordination with the C-terminal end. Moreover, a single alanine substitution of the Pro-139 in the CB2 receptor that corresponds to Leu-222 in the CB1 receptor resulted in a moderate impairment in the inhibition of cAMP accumulation, whereas mutants P139F, P139M and P139L were able to couple to the Gs protein in a CRE-driven luciferase assay. With the ERK activation experiments, we further found that P139L has the ability to activate ERK through both Gi- and Gs-mediated pathways. Our findings defined an essential role of the second intracellular loop of the CB2 receptor in coordination with the C-terminal tail in G protein coupling and receptor activation.

Activation of CAMP-response Element-binding Protein is Positively Regulated by PKA and Calcium-sensitive Calcineurin and Negatively by PKC in Insect

Insect Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. Nov, 2013  |  Pubmed ID: 24018109

The cAMP response element binding protein, CREB, is a G protein-coupled receptor (GPCR) signal-activated transcription factor implicated in the control of many biological processes. In the current study, we constructed a cAMP response element (CRE)-driven luciferase assay system for GPCR characterization in insect cells. Our results indicated that Gs-coupled Bombyx adipokinetic hormone receptor (AKHR) and corazonin receptor could effectively initiate CRE-driven luciferase transcription, but forskolin, a reagent widely used to activate adenylyl cyclase in mammalian systems, failed to induce luciferase activity in insect cells co-transfected with a CRE-driven reporter construct upon agonist treatment. Further investigation revealed that the specific protein kinase C (PKC) inhibitors exhibited stimulatory effects on CRE-driven reporter transcription, and blockage of Ca(2+) signals and inhibition of Ca(2+)-dependent calcineurin resulted in a significant decrease in the luciferase activity. Taken together, these results suggest that PKC likely acts as a negative regulator to modulate CREB activation; in contrast, Ca(2+) signals and Ca(2+)-dependent calcineurin, in addition to PKA, essentially contribute to the positive regulation of CREB activity. This study presents evidence to elucidate the underlying molecular mechanism by which CREB activation is regulated in insects.

Activation of Bombyx Neuropeptide G Protein-coupled Receptor A4 Via a Gαi-dependent Signaling Pathway by Direct Interaction with Neuropeptide F from Silkworm, Bombyx Mori

Insect Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. Feb, 2014  |  Pubmed ID: 24374022

Members of the mammalian neuropeptide Y (NPY) family serve as neurotransmitters and contribute to a diversity of physiological functions. Although neuropeptide F (NPF), the NPY-like orthologs from insects, have been identified, the NPF receptors and their signaling and physiological functions remain largely unknown. In this study, we established the stable and transient functional expression of a Bombyx orphan G protein-coupled receptor, BNGR-A4, in both mammalian HEK293 and insect SF21 cells. We identified Bombyx mori NPFs as specific endogenous ligands for the Bombyx Neuropeptide GPCR A4 (BNGR-A4) and, accordingly, named the receptor BomNPFR. Our results demonstrated that BomNPFR was activated by synthetic BomNPF1a and BomNPF1b at a high efficacy and by BomNPF2 at a low efficacy. This activation led to a decrease of forskolin or adipokinetic hormone peptide-stimulated adenylyl cyclase activity, an increase of intracellular Ca(2+), the activation of ERK1/2 signaling and receptor internalization. Moreover, a Rhodamine-labeled BomNPF1a peptide was found to bind specifically to BomNPFR. The results derived from quantitative RT-PCR analysis and dsRNA-mediated knockdown experiments demonstrated the possible role of BomNPFR in the regulation of food intake and growth. Our results provide the first in-depth information on BomNPFR-mediated signaling for the further elucidation of the BomNPF/BomNPFR system in the regulation of fundamental physiological processes.

Melatonin Receptor Type 1 Signals to Extracellular Signal-regulated Kinase 1 and 2 Via Gi and Gs Dually Coupled Pathways in HEK-293 Cells

Biochemistry. May, 2014  |  Pubmed ID: 24724723

The pineal gland hormone melatonin exerts its regulatory roles in a variety of physiological and pathological responses through two G protein-coupled receptors, melatonin receptor type 1 (MT1) and melatonin receptor type 2 (MT2), which have been recognized as promising targets in the treatment of a number of human diseases and disorders. The MT1 receptor was identified nearly 20 years ago; however, the molecular mechanisms by which MT1-mediated signaling affects physiology remain to be further elucidated. In this study, using HEK293 cells stably expressing the human MT1 receptor, melatonin induced a concentration-dependent activation of extracellular signal-regulated kinase 1 and 2 (ERK1/2). The melatonin-mediated phosphorylation of ERK1/2 at later time points (≥5 min) was strongly suppressed by pretreatment with pertussis toxin, but only a slight, if any, inhibition of ERK1/2 activation at early time points (≤2 min) was detected. Further experiments demonstrated that the Gβγ subunit, phosphoinositide 3-kinase, and calcium-insensitive protein kinase C were involved in the MT1-mediated activation of ERK1/2 at later time points (≥5 min). Moreover, results derived from cAMP assays combined with a MT1 mutant indicated that the human MT1 receptor could also couple to Gs protein, stimulating intracellular cAMP formation, and that the MT1-induced activation of ERK1/2 at early time points (≤2 min) was mediated by the Gs/cAMP/PKA cascade. Our findings may provide new insights into the pharmacological effects and physiological functions modulated by the MT1-mediated activation of ERK1/2.

Involvement of β-arrestin-2 and Clathrin in Agonist-mediated Internalization of the Human Cannabinoid CB2 Receptor

Current Molecular Pharmacology. 2014  |  Pubmed ID: 25023974

The CB2 cannabinoid receptor is a promising therapeutic target for the treatment of inflammatory diseases, neuropathic pain, liver diseases, cancer and cardiovascular diseases. Obtaining detailed information on the internalization and trafficking of the human CB2 receptor in response to agonist will have a significant impact on drug discovery. Visualization and quantitative detection of EGFP-tagged CB2 receptor showed that, upon WIN55,212-2 stimulation, the CB2 receptor was rapidly internalized in a dose- and time-dependent manner from the cell membrane into the cytoplasm. Pretreatment with hypertonic sucrose, MDC clathrin inhibitor, or siRNA-mediated knock-down of clathrin heavy chain led to significant inhibition of agonist-induced CB2 internalization. Using the RNA interference method, we showed that knockdown of β-arrestin2 expression significantly impaired receptor internalisation. Further investigation demonstrated that the internalized CB2 receptors were co-localized with the early endosome probe and were recycled to the cell surface after the removal of agonist, but treatment with specific cell-permeable proteasome inhibitor MG132 a inhibited the recycling of internalized CB2 receptor, suggesting that the proteasome-mediated degradation pathway may be involved in CB2 internalization. Moreover, the single residue Ser(352) and residue cluster S(335)S(336)T(338)T(340) at the C-terminal tail are shown to be essential for receptor phosphorylation and β-arrestin2 association. These data provide new insights into the mechanisms regulating agonist-mediated internalization and trafficking of the human CB2 receptor.

Differential Requirements of Arrestin-3 and Clathrin for Ligand-dependent and -independent Internalization of Human G Protein-coupled Receptor 40

Cellular Signalling. Nov, 2014  |  Pubmed ID: 25038452

G protein-coupled receptor 40 (GPR40) is believed to be an attractive target to enhance insulin secretion in patients with type 2 diabetes. GPR40 has been found to couple to Gq protein, leading to the activation of phospholipase C and subsequent increases in the intracellular Ca(2+) level. However, the underlying mechanisms that regulate the internalization and desensitization of GPR40 remain to be elucidated. In the present study, a construct of GPR40 fused with enhanced green fluorescent protein (EGFP) at its C-terminus was constructed for direct imaging of the localization and internalization of GPR40 by confocal microscopy. In stably transfected HEK-293 cells, GPR40 receptors underwent rapid agonist-induced internalization and constitutive ligand-independent internalization. Our data demonstrated that the agonist-mediated internalization of GPR40 was significantly blocked by hypertonic sucrose treatment and by siRNA mediated depletion of the heavy chain of clathrin. In contrast, constitutive GPR40 internalization was not affected by hypertonic sucrose or by knock-down of clathrin expression, but it was affected by treatment with methyl-β-cyclodextrin (MβCD) and nystatin. Furthermore, our results using an arrestin-3-EGFP redistribution assay and siRNA-mediated knock-down of arrestin-3 and GRK2 expression revealed that arrestin-3 and GRK2 play an essential role in the regulation of agonist-mediated GPR40 internalization, but are not involved in the regulation of constitutive GPR40 internalization. Additionally, our observation showed that upon activation by agonist, the internalized GPR40 receptors were rapidly recycled back to the plasma membrane via Rab4/Rab5 positive endosomes, whereas the constitutively internalized GPR40 receptors were recycled back to the cell surface through Rab5 positive endosomes. Because FFA receptors exhibit a high level of homology, our observations could be applicable to other members of this family.

Activation of BNGR-A24 by Direct Interaction with Tachykinin-related Peptides from the Silkworm Bombyx Mori Leads to the Gq- and Gs-coupled Signaling Cascades

Biochemistry. Oct, 2014  |  Pubmed ID: 25275886

Tachykinins constitute one of the largest peptide families in the animal kingdom and exert their diverse actions via G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs). In this study, the Bombyx tachykinin-related peptides (TKRPs) were identified as specific endogenous ligands for the Bombyx neuropeptide GPCR A24 (BNGR-A24) and thus designated BNGR-A24 as BmTKRPR. Using both mammalian cell line HEK293 and insect cell line Sf21, further characterization demonstrated that BmTKRPR was activated, thus resulting in intracellular accumulation of cAMP, Ca(2+) mobilization, and ERK1/2 phosphorylation in a Gs and Gq inhibitor-sensitive manner. Moreover, quantitative reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction analysis and dsRNA-mediated knockdown experiments suggested a possible role for BmTKRPR in the regulation of feeding and growth. Our findings enhance the understanding of the Bombyx TKRP system in the regulation of fundamental physiological processes.

Niacin Activates the PI3K/Akt Cascade Via PKC- and EGFR-transactivation-dependent Pathways Through Hydroxyl-carboxylic Acid Receptor 2

PloS One. 2014  |  Pubmed ID: 25375133

Niacin has been demonstrated to activate a PI3K/Akt signaling cascade to prevent brain damage after stroke and UV-induced skin damage; however, the underlying molecular mechanisms for HCA2-induced Akt activation remain to be elucidated. Using CHO-K1 cells stably expressing HCA2 and A431 cells, a human epidermoid cell line with high levels of endogenous expression of functional HCA2 receptors, we first demonstrated that niacin induced a robust Akt phosphorylation at both Thr308 and Ser473 in a time-dependent fashion, with a maximal activation at 5 min and a subsequent reduction to baseline by 30 min through HCA2, and that the activation was significantly blocked by pertussis toxin. The HCA2-mediated activation of Akt was also significantly inhibited by the PKC inhibitors GF109203x and Go6983 in both cell lines, by the PDGFR-selective inhibitor tyrphostin A9 in CHO-HCA2 cells and by the MMP inhibitor GM6001 and EGFR-specific inhibitor AG1478 in A431 cells. These results suggest that the PKC pathway and PDGFR/EGFR transactivation pathway play important roles in HCA2-mediated Akt activation. Further investigation indicated that PI3K and the Gβγ subunit were likely to play an essential role in HCA2-induced Akt activation. Moreover, Immunobloting analyses using an antibody that recognizes p70S6K1 phosphorylated at Thr389 showed that niacin evoked p70S6K1 activation via the PI3K/Akt pathway. The results of our study provide new insight into the signaling pathways involved in HCA2 activation.

Bombyx Mori Prothoracicostatic Peptide Receptor is Allosterically Activated Via a Gα(i/o)-protein-biased Signalling Cascade by Drosophila Sex Peptide

The Biochemical Journal. Mar, 2015  |  Pubmed ID: 25422933

In insects, molting and metamorphosis are strictly regulated by ecdysteroids. Ecdysteroid synthesis is positively or negatively controlled by several neuropeptides. The prothoracicostatic peptide (PTSP) BmPTSP (Bombyx mori prothoracicostatic peptide), isolated from the larval brain of B. mori, has been demonstrated to inhibit ecdysteroid synthesis in the prothoracic glands (PGs) [Hua et al. (1999) J. Biol. Chem. 274, 31169-31173]. More recently, the newly recognized B. mori receptor for Drosophila melanogaster sex peptide (DmSP) has been identified as a receptor for BmPTSP. However, details on the signalling pathways and physiological functions of this receptor have remained elusive. In the present paper, we report the functional characterization of the BmPTSP receptor (BmPTSPR)/sex peptide (SP) receptor (SPR) using both mammalian and insect cells. Synthetic DmSP shows the potential to inhibit forskolin (FSK) or adipokinetic hormone (AKH)-induced cAMP-response element (CRE)-driven luciferase (Luc) activity in a manner comparable with synthetic BmPTSP1. However, DmSP displayed a much lower activity in triggering Ca²⁺ mobilization and internalization than did BmPTSP1. Additionally, 6-carboxy-fluorescein fluorophore (FAM)-labelled DmSP and BmPTSP3 were found to bind specifically to BmPTSPR/SPR. The binding of FAM-DmSP was displaced by unlabelled DmSP, but not by unlabelled BmPTSP1 and, vice versa, the binding of FAM-BmPTSP3 was blocked by unlabelled BmPTSP3, but not by unlabelled DmSP. Moreover, internalization assays demonstrated that BmPTSP1, but not DmSP, evoked recruitment of the Bombyx non-visual arrestin, Kurtz, to the activated BmPTSPR/SPR in the plasma membrane. This was followed by induction of internalization. This suggests that BmPTSP1 is probably an endogenous ligand specific for BmPTSPR/SPR. We therefore designate this receptor BmPTSPR. In contrast, DmSP is an allosteric agonist that is biased towards Gα(i/o)-dependent cAMP production and away from Ca²⁺ mobilization and arrestin recruitment.

Novel 1-Phenyl-3-hydroxy-4-pyridinone Derivatives As Multifunctional Agents for the Therapy of Alzheimer's Disease

ACS Chemical Neuroscience. Jan, 2016  |  Pubmed ID: 26479744

A series of novel 1-phenyl-3-hydroxy-4-pyridinone derivatives were designed and synthesized as multifunctional agents for Alzheimer's disease (AD) therapy through incorporation of 3-hydroxy-4-pyridinone moiety from deferiprone into the scaffold of H3 receptor antagonists. Most of these new compounds displayed designed quadruple functions, H3 receptor antagonism, Aβ aggregation inhibition, metal ion chelation, and radical scavenging. Especially, the most promising compound 5c displayed nanomolar IC50 values in H3 receptor antagonism with high selectivity, efficient capability to interrupt the formation of Aβ(1-42) fibrils, good copper and iron chelating properties, and more potent 2,2'-azino-bis(3-ethyl-benzothiazoline-6-sulfonic acid) radical cation (ABTS(•+)) scavenging activity than Trolox. Further biological evaluation revealed that it did not show obvious cytotoxicity and hERG potassium channel inhibition at micromolar concentration. In addition, compound 5c demonstrated suitable pharmacokinetic properties and acceptable blood-brain barrier (BBB) permeability in vivo. All these results indicate that compound 5c is a potential multifunctional candidate for AD therapy.

Agonist-induced Activation of Histamine H3 Receptor Signals to Extracellular Signal-regulated Kinases 1 and 2 Through PKC-, PLD-, and EGFR-dependent Mechanisms

Journal of Neurochemistry. Apr, 2016  |  Pubmed ID: 26826667

The histamine H3 receptor (H3R), abundantly expressed in the central and the peripheral nervous system, has been recognized as a promising target for the treatment of various important CNS diseases including narcolepsy, Alzheimer's disease, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. The H3R acts via Gi/o -proteins to inhibit adenylate cyclase activity and modulate MAPK activity. However, the underlying molecular mechanisms for H3R mediation of the activation of extracellular signal-regulated kinases 1 and 2 (ERK1/2) remain to be elucidated. In this study, using HEK293 cells stably expressing human H3R and mouse primary cortical neurons endogenously expressing mouse H3R, we found that the H3R-mediated activation of ERK1/2 was significantly blocked by both the pertussis toxin and the MEK1/2 inhibitor U0126. Upon stimulation by H3R agonist histamine or imetit, H3R was shown to rapidly induce ERK1/2 phosphorylation via PLC/PKC-, PLDs-, and epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) transactivation-dependent pathways. Furthermore, it was also indicated that while the βγ-subunits play a key role in H3R-activated ERK1/2 phosphorylation, β-arrestins were not required for ERK1/2 activation. In addition, when the cultured mouse cortical neurons were exposed to oxygen and glucose deprivation conditions (OGD), imetit exhibited neuroprotective properties through the H3R. Treatment of cells with the inhibitor UO126 abolished these protective effects. This suggests a possible neuroprotective role of the H3R-mediated ERK1/2 pathway under hypoxia conditions. These observations may provide new insights into the pharmacological effects and the physiological functions modulated by the H3R-mediated activation of ERK1/2. Histamine H3 receptors are abundantly expressed in the brain and play important roles in various CNS physiological functions. However, the underlying mechanisms for H3R-induced activation of extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK)1/2 remain largely unknown. Here, we provide evidence that upon activation by an agonist, H3Rs trigger ERK1/2 activation via phospholipase C/protein kinase C (PLC/PKC)-, phospholipase D (PLD)s-, and matrix metallopeptidase/epidermal growth factor receptor (MMP/EGFR) transactivation-dependent pathways. Moreover, we demonstrate that H3Rs exhibit a neuroprotective effect on the cultured mouse cortical neurons under hypoxia conditions through the ERK1/2 pathway.

Human Neuropeptide S Receptor Is Activated Via a Gαq Protein-biased Signaling Cascade by a Human Neuropeptide S Analog Lacking the C-terminal 10 Residues

The Journal of Biological Chemistry. Apr, 2016  |  Pubmed ID: 26865629

Human neuropeptide S (NPS) and its cognate receptor regulate important biological functions in the brain and have emerged as a future therapeutic target for treatment of a variety of neurological and psychiatric diseases. The human NPS (hNPS) receptor has been shown to dually couple to Gαs- and Gαq-dependent signaling pathways. The human NPS analog hNPS-(1-10), lacking 10 residues from the C terminus, has been shown to stimulate Ca(2+)mobilization in a manner comparable with full-length hNPSin vitrobut seems to fail to induce biological activityin vivo Here, results derived from a number of cell-based functional assays, including intracellular cAMP-response element (CRE)-driven luciferase activity, Ca(2+)mobilization, and ERK1/2 phosphorylation, show that hNPS-(1-10) preferentially activates Gαq-dependent Ca(2+)mobilization while exhibiting less activity in triggering Gαs-dependent CRE-driven luciferase activity. We further demonstrate that both Gαq- and Gαs-coupled signaling pathways contribute to full-length hNPS-mediated activation of ERK1/2, whereas hNPS-(1-10)-promoted ERK1/2 activation is completely inhibited by the Gαqinhibitor UBO-QIC but not by the PKA inhibitor H89. Moreover, the results of Ala-scanning mutagenesis of hNPS-(1-13) indicated that residues Lys(11)and Lys(12)are structurally crucial for the hNPS receptor to couple to Gαs-dependent signaling. In conclusion, our findings demonstrate that hNPS-(1-10) is a biased agonist favoring Gαq-dependent signaling. It may represent a valuable chemical probe for further investigation of the therapeutic potential of human NPS receptor-directed signalingin vivo.

Quantitative Analysis of G-protein-coupled Receptor Internalization Using DnaE Intein-based Assay

Methods in Cell Biology. 2016  |  Pubmed ID: 26928549

G-protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs), the largest family of cell surface receptors, are involved in many physiological processes. They represent highly important therapeutic targets for drug discovery. Currently, there are numerous cell-based assays developed for the pharmacological profiling of GPCRs and the identification of novel agonists and antagonists. However, the development of new, faster, easier, and more cost-effective approaches to detect GPCR activity remains highly desirable. β-arrestin-dependent internalization has been demonstrated to be a common mechanism for most GPCRs. Here we describe a novel assay for quantitative analysis of GPCR internalization based on DnaE intein-mediated reconstitution of fragmented Renilla luciferase or Firefly luciferase when activated GPCRs interact with β-arrestin2 or Rab5. Further validation, using functionally divergent GPCRs, showed that EC50 values obtained for the known agonists and antagonists were in close agreement with the results of previous reports. This suggests that this assay is sensitive enough to permit quantification of GPCR internalization. Compared with conventional assays, this novel assay system is cost-effective, rapid, and easy to manipulate. These advantages may allow this assay to be used universally as a functional cell-based system for GPCR characterization and in the screening process of drug discovery.

Agonist-mediated Activation of Bombyx Mori Diapause Hormone Receptor Signals to Extracellular Signal-regulated Kinases 1 and 2 Through Gq-PLC-PKC-dependent Cascade

Insect Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. Aug, 2016  |  Pubmed ID: 27318251

Diapause is a developmental strategy adopted by insects to survive in challenging environments such as the low temperatures of a winter. This unique process is regulated by diapause hormone (DH), which is a neuropeptide hormone that induces egg diapause in Bombyx mori and is involved in terminating pupal diapause in heliothis moths. An G protein-coupled receptor from the silkworm, B. mori, has been identified as a specific cell surface receptor for DH. However, the detailed information on the DH-DHR system and its mechanism(s) involved in the induction of embryonic diapause remains unknown. Here, we combined functional assays with various specific inhibitors to elucidate the DHR-mediated signaling pathways. Upon activation by DH, B. mori DHR is coupled to the Gq protein, leading to a significant increase of intracellular Ca(2+) and cAMP response element-driven luciferase activity in an UBO-QIC, a specific Gq inhibitor, sensitive manner. B. mori DHR elicited ERK1/2 phosphorylation in a dose- and time-dependent manner in response to DH. This effect was almost completely inhibited by co-incubation with UBO-QIC and was also significantly suppressed by PLC inhibitor U73122, PKC inhibitors Gö6983 and the Ca(2+) chelator EGTA. Moreover, DHR-induced activation of ERK1/2 was significantly attenuated by treatment with the Gβγ specific inhibitors gallein and M119K and the PI3K specific inhibitor Wortmannin, but not by the Src specific inhibitor PP2. Our data also demonstrates that the EGFR-transactivation pathway is not involved in the DHR-mediated ERK1/2 phosphorylation. Future efforts are needed to clarify the role of the ERK1/2 signaling pathway in the DH-mediated induction of B. mori embryonic diapause.

Agonist-Activated Bombyx Corazonin Receptor Is Internalized Via an Arrestin-Dependent and Clathrin-Independent Pathway

Biochemistry. Jul, 2016  |  Pubmed ID: 27348044

Agonist-induced internalization plays a key role in the tight regulation of the extent and duration of G protein-coupled receptor signaling. Previously, we have shown that the Bombyx corazonin receptor (BmCrzR) activates both Gαq- and Gαs-dependent signaling cascades. However, the molecular mechanisms involved in the regulation of the internalization and desensitization of BmCrzR remain to be elucidated. Here, vectors for expressing BmCrzR fused with enhanced green fluorescent protein (EGFP) at the C-terminal end were used to further characterize BmCrzR internalization. We found that the BmCrzR heterologously expressed in HEK-293 and BmN cells was rapidly internalized from the plasma membrane into the cytoplasm in a concentration- and time-dependent manner via a β-arrestin (Kurtz)-dependent and clathrin-independent pathway in response to agonist challenge. While most of the internalized receptors were recycled to the cell surface via early endosomes, some others were transported to lysosomes for degradation. Assays using RNA interference revealed that both GRK2 and GRK5 were essentially involved in the regulation of BmCrzR phosphorylation and internalization. Further investigations indicated that the identified cluster of Ser/Thr residues ((411)TSS(413)) was responsible for GRK-mediated phosphorylation and internalization. This is the first detailed investigation of the internalization and trafficking of Bombyx corazonin receptors.

Identification and Functional Characterisation of 5-HT4 Receptor in Sea Cucumber Apostichopus Japonicus (Selenka)

Scientific Reports. Jan, 2017  |  Pubmed ID: 28059140

Serotonin (5-HT) is an important neurotransmitter and neuromodulator that controls a variety of sensory and motor functions through 5-HT receptors (5-HTRs). The 5-HT4R subfamily is linked to Gs proteins, which activate adenylyl cyclases (ACs), and is involved in many responses in peripheral organs. In this study, the 5-HT4R from Apostichopus japonicus (Aj5-HT4R) was identified and characterised. The cloned full-length Aj5-HT4R cDNA is 1,544 bp long and contains an open reading frame 1,011 bp in length encoding 336 amino acid proteins. Bioinformatics analysis of the Aj5-HT4R protein indicated this receptor was a member of class A G protein coupled receptor (GPCR) family. Further experiments using Aj5-HT4R-transfected HEK293 cells demonstrated that treatment with 5-HT triggered a significant increase in intracellular cAMP level in a dose-dependent manner and induced a rapid internalisation of Aj5-HT4R fused with enhanced green fluorescent protein (Aj5-HT4R-EGFP) from the cell surface into the cytoplasm. In addition, the transcriptional profiles of Aj5-HT4R in aestivating A. japonicas and phosphofructokinase (AjPFK) in 5-HT administrated A. japonicus have been analysed by real-time PCR assays. Results have led to a basic understanding of Aj5-HT4R in A. japonicus, and provide a foundation for further exploration of the cell signaling and regulatory functions of this receptor.

Activated Niacin Receptor HCA2 Inhibits Chemoattractant-mediated Macrophage Migration Via Gβγ/PKC/ERK1/2 Pathway and Heterologous Receptor Desensitization

Scientific Reports. Feb, 2017  |  Pubmed ID: 28186140

The niacin receptor HCA2 is implicated in controlling inflammatory host responses with yet poorly understood mechanistic basis. We previously reported that HCA2 in A431 epithelial cells transduced Gβγ-protein kinase C- and Gβγ-metalloproteinase/EGFR-dependent MAPK/ERK signaling cascades. Here, we investigated the role of HCA2 in macrophage-mediated inflammation and the underlying mechanisms. We found that proinflammatory stimulants LPS, IL-6 and IL-1β up-regulated the expression of HCA2 on macrophages. Niacin significantly inhibited macrophage chemotaxis in response to chemoattractants fMLF and CCL2 by disrupting polarized distribution of F-actin and Gβ protein. Niacin showed a selected additive effect on chemoattractant-induced activation of ERK1/2, JNK and PI3K pathways, but only the MEK inhibitor UO126 reduced niacin-mediated inhibition of macrophage chemotaxis, while activation of ERK1/2 by EGF alone did not inhibit fMLF-mediated migration of HEK293T cells co-expressing HCA2 and fMLF receptor FPR1. In addition, niacin induced heterologous desensitization and internalization of FPR1. Furthermore, niacin rescued mice from septic shock by diminishing inflammatory symptoms and the effect was abrogated in HCA2(-/-) mice. These results suggest that Gβγ/PKC-dependent ERK1/2 activation and heterologous desensitization of chemoattractant receptors are involved in the inhibition of chemoattractant-induced migration of macrophages by niacin. Thus, HCA2 plays a critical role in host protection against pro-inflammatory insults.

An Overview of Ca(2+) Mobilization Assays in GPCR Drug Discovery

Expert Opinion on Drug Discovery. Mar, 2017  |  Pubmed ID: 28277837

Calcium ions (Ca(2+)) serve as a second messenger or universal signal transducer implicated in the regulation of a wide range of physiological processes. A change in the concentration of intracellular Ca(2+) is an important step in intracellular signal transduction. G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs), the largest and most versatile group of cell surface receptors, transduce extracellular signals into intracellular responses via their coupling to heterotrimeric G proteins. Since Ca(2+) plays a crucial role in GPCR-induced signaling, measurement of intracellular Ca(2+) has attracted more and more attention in GPCR-targeted drug discovery. Areas covered: This review focuses on the most popular functional assays measuring GPCRs-induced intracellular Ca(2+) signaling. These include photoprotein-based, synthetic fluorescent indicator-based and genetically encoded calcium indicator (GECI)-based Ca(2+) mobilization assays. A brief discussion of the design strategy of fluorescent probes in GPCR studies is also presented. Expert opinion: GPCR-mediated intracellular signaling is multidimensional. There is an urgent need for the development of multiple-readout screening assays capable of simultaneous detection of biased signaling and screening of both agonists and antagonists in the same assay. It is also necessary to develop GECIs offering low cost and consistent assays suitable for investigating GPCR activation in vivo.

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