Chemokines comprise a family of secreted proteins that activate G protein-coupled chemokine receptors and thereby control the migration of leukocytes during inflammation or immune surveillance. The positional information required for such migratory behavior is governed by the binding of chemokines to membrane-tethered glycosaminoglycans (GAGs), which establishes a chemokine concentration gradient. An often observed but incompletely understood behavior of chemokines is the ability of unrelated chemokines to enhance the potency with which another chemokine subtype can activate its cognate receptor. This phenomenon has been demonstrated to occur between many chemokine combinations and across several model systems and has been dubbed chemokine cooperativity. In this study, we have used GAG binding-deficient chemokine mutants and cell-based functional (migration) assays to demonstrate that chemokine cooperativity is caused by competitive binding of chemokines to GAGs. This mechanistic explanation of chemokine cooperativity provides insight into chemokine gradient formation in the context of inflammation, in which multiple chemokines are secreted simultaneously.
Herpesviruses encode membrane-associated G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) in their viral genomes that are structurally similar to chemokine receptors. These GPCRs hijack GPCR-mediated cellular signalling networks of the host for survival, replication and pathogenesis. In particular the herpesvirus-encoded chemokine receptors ORF74, BILF1 and US28, which are present at inflammatory sites and tumour cells, provide important virus-specific targets for directed therapies. Given the high druggability of GPCRs in general, these viral GPCRs can be considered promising antiviral drug targets.
The chemokine receptor CXCR7, belonging to the membrane-bound G protein-coupled receptor superfamily, is expressed in several tumor types. Inhibition of CXCR7 with either small molecules or small interference (si)RNA has shown promising therapeutic benefits in several tumor models. With the increased interest and effectiveness of biologicals inhibiting membrane-bound receptors we made use of the "Nanobody platform" to target CXCR7. Previously we showed that Nanobodies, i.e. immunoglobulin single variable domains derived from naturally occurring heavy chain-only camelids antibodies, represent new biological tools to efficiently tackle difficult drug targets such as G protein-coupled receptors. In this study we developed and characterized highly selective and potent Nanobodies against CXCR7. Interestingly, the CXCR7-targeting Nanobodies displayed antagonistic properties in contrast with previously reported CXCR7-targeting agents. Several high affinity CXCR7-specific Nanobodies potently inhibited CXCL12-induced ?-arrestin2 recruitment in vitro. A wide variety of tumor biopsies was profiled, showing for the first time high expression of CXCR7 in head and neck cancer. Using a patient-derived CXCR7-expressing head and neck cancer xenograft model in nude mice, tumor growth was inhibited by CXCR7-targeting Nanobody therapy. Mechanistically, CXCR7-targeting Nanobodies did not inhibit cell cycle progression but instead reduced secretion of the angiogenic chemokine CXCL1 from head and neck cancer cells in vitro, thus acting here as inverse agonists, and subsequent angiogenesis in vivo. Hence, with this novel class of CXCR7 inhibitors, we further substantiate the therapeutic relevance of targeting CXCR7 in head and neck cancer.
The basic methylpiperazine moiety is considered a necessary substructure for high histamine H4 receptor (H4R) affinity. This moiety is however also the metabolic hot spot for various classes of H4R ligands (e.g., indolcarboxamides and pyrimidines). We set out to investigate whether mildly basic 2-aminopyrimidines in combination with the appropriate linker can serve as a replacement for the methylpiperazine moiety. In the series of 2-aminopyrimidines, the introduction of an additional 2-aminopyrimidine moiety in combination with the appropriate linker lead to bispyrimidines displaying pKi values for binding the human H4R up to 8.2. Furthermore, the methylpiperazine replacement results in compounds with improved metabolic properties. The attempt to transfer the knowledge generated in the class of bispyrimidines to the indolecarboxamides failed. Combining the derived structure-activity relationships with homology modeling leads to new detailed insights in the molecular aspects of ligand-H4R binding in general and the binding mode of the described bispyrimidines in specific.
Chemokine receptors form a large subfamily of G protein-coupled receptors that predominantly activate heterotrimeric Gi proteins and are involved in immune cell migration. CCX-CKR is an atypical chemokine receptor with high affinity for CCL19, CCL21, and CCL25 chemokines, but is not known to activate intracellular signaling pathways. However, CCX-CKR acts as decoy receptor and efficiently internalizes these chemokines, thereby preventing their interaction with other chemokine receptors, like CCR7 and CCR9. Internalization of fluorescently labeled CCL19 correlated with ?-arrestin2-GFP translocation. Moreover, recruitment of ?-arrestins to CCX-CKR in response to CCL19, CCL21, and CCL25 was demonstrated using enzyme-fragment complementation and bioluminescence resonance energy transfer methods. To unravel why CCX-CKR is unable to activate Gi signaling, CCX-CKR chimeras were constructed by substituting its intracellular loops with the corresponding CCR7 or CCR9 domains. The signaling properties of chimeric CCX-CKR receptors were characterized using a cAMP-responsive element (CRE)-driven reporter gene assay. Unexpectedly, wild type CCX-CKR and a subset of the chimeras induced an increase in CRE activity in response to CCL19, CCL21, and CCL25 in the presence of the Gi inhibitor pertussis toxin. CCX-CKR signaling to CRE required an intact DRY motif. These data suggest that inactive Gi proteins impair CCX-CKR signaling most likely by hindering the interaction of this receptor with pertussis toxin-insensitive G proteins that transduce signaling to CRE. On the other hand, recruitment of the putative signaling scaffold ?-arrestin to CCX-CKR in response to chemokines might allow activation of yet to be identified signal transduction pathways.
The recent crystal structure determinations of druggable class A G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) have opened up excellent opportunities in structure-based ligand discovery for this pharmaceutically important protein family. We have developed and validated a customized structure-based virtual fragment screening protocol against the recently determined human histamine H(1) receptor (H(1)R) crystal structure. The method combines molecular docking simulations with a protein-ligand interaction fingerprint (IFP) scoring method. The optimized in silico screening approach was successfully applied to identify a chemically diverse set of novel fragment-like (?22 heavy atoms) H(1)R ligands with an exceptionally high hit rate of 73%. Of the 26 tested fragments, 19 compounds had affinities ranging from 10 ?M to 6 nM. The current study shows the potential of in silico screening against GPCR crystal structures to explore novel, fragment-like GPCR ligand space.
The histamine H(4) receptor (H(4)R) is a G protein-coupled receptor (GPCR) that plays an important role in inflammation. Similar to the homologous histamine H(3) receptor (H(3)R), two acidic residues in the H(4)R binding pocket, D(3.32) and E(5.46), act as essential hydrogen bond acceptors of positively ionizable hydrogen bond donors in H(4)R ligands. Given the symmetric distribution of these complementary pharmacophore features in H(4)R and its ligands, different alternative ligand binding mode hypotheses have been proposed. The current study focuses on the elucidation of the molecular determinants of H(4)R-ligand binding modes by combining (3D) quantitative structure-activity relationship (QSAR), protein homology modeling, molecular dynamics simulations, and site-directed mutagenesis studies. We have designed and synthesized a series of clobenpropit (N-(4-chlorobenzyl)-S-[3-(4(5)-imidazolyl)propyl]isothiourea) derivatives to investigate H(4)R-ligand interactions and ligand binding orientations. Interestingly, our studies indicate that clobenpropit (2) itself can bind to H(4)R in two distinct binding modes, while the addition of a cyclohexyl group to the clobenpropit isothiourea moiety allows VUF5228 (5) to adopt only one specific binding mode in the H(4)R binding pocket. Our ligand-steered, experimentally supported protein modeling method gives new insights into ligand recognition by H(4)R and can be used as a general approach to elucidate the structure of protein-ligand complexes.
A fragment library was screened against the G protein-coupled histamine H(4) receptor (H(4)R) and the ligand-gated ion channel serotonin 5-HT(3A) (5-HT(3A)R). Interestingly, significant overlap was found between H(4)R and 5-HT(3A)R hit sets. The data indicates that dual active H(4)R and 5 HT(3A)R fragments have a higher complexity than the selective compounds which has important implications for chemical genomics approaches. The results of our fragment-based library screening study illustrate similarities in ligand recognition between H(4)R and 5-HT(3A)R and have important consequences for selectivity profiling in ongoing drug discovery efforts on H(4)R and 5-HT(3A)R. The affinity profiles of our fragment screening studies furthermore match the chemical properties of the H(4)R and 5-HT(3A)R binding sites and can be used to define molecular interaction fingerprints to guide the in silico prediction of protein-ligand interactions and structure.
Most cells express a panel of different G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) allowing them to respond to at least a corresponding variety of extracellular ligands. In order to come to an integrative well-balanced functional response these ligand-receptor pairs can often cross-regulate each other. Although most GPCRs are fully capable to induce intracellular signalling upon agonist binding on their own, many GPCRs, if not all, appear to exist and function in homomeric and/or heteromeric assemblies for at least some time. Such heteromeric organization offers unique allosteric control of receptor pharmacology and function between the protomers and might even unmask new features. However, it is important to realize that some functional consequences that are proposed to originate from heteromeric receptor interactions may also be observed due to intracellular crosstalk between signalling pathways of non-associated GPCRs.
With the recognition of two new histamine receptors at the start of the new millennium, the field of histamine research has seen a clear revival. In the last 10 years, many academic and industrial groups have taken up the challenge to target these new members of the aminergic G-protein-coupled receptor (GPCR) family. Histamine receptor research nicely illustrates how GPCR research has changed in the post-genomic era. There is a growing understanding of GPCR structure, function and modulation at a molecular level. Emerging concepts such as receptor isoforms, GPCR oligomerization and ligand-biased signaling are all being studied, but their clinical relevance remains to be determined. The histamine H(3) and H(4) drug development programs can help to establish the link between these molecular features and clinical efficacy. Several new anti-histamines are now being tested for diverse clinical applications and are poised to become the next blockbuster drugs targeting histamine receptors.
The histamine H(1) receptor (H(1)R) is a key player in acute inflammatory responses. Antihistamines are widely used to relief the symptoms of allergic rhinitis by antagonizing histamine binding to the H(1)R, without possessing intrinsic activity in classical assays such as guinea pig ileum contraction assays or intracellular Ca(2+) mobilization. Overexpression of H(1)R in heterologous cell lines unmasked the capacity of this receptor to signal in a histamine-independent manner. Moreover, a recent screen of therapeutic and reference antagonists on these H(1)R-overexpressing cells revealed that the majority of these drugs are in fact inverse agonists, as they inhibit basal H(1)R activity. In this chapter, we describe several approaches to study H(1)R constitutive signaling that can be used to identify inverse agonists acting at this blockbuster target.
Cells express distinct G protein-coupled receptor (GPCR) subtypes on their surface, allowing them to react to a corresponding variety of extracellular stimuli. Cross-regulation between different ligand-GPCR pairs is essential to generate appropriate physiological responses. GPCRs can physically affect each others functioning by forming heteromeric complexes, whereas cross-regulation between activated GPCRs also occurs through integration of shared intracellular signaling networks. Human herpesviruses utilize virally encoded GPCRs to hijack cellular signaling networks for their own benefit. Previously, we demonstrated that the Epstein-Barr virus-encoded GPCR BILF1 forms heterodimeric complexes with human chemokine receptors. Using a combination of bimolecular complementation and bioluminescence resonance energy transfer approaches, we now show the formation of hetero-oligomeric complexes between this viral GPCR and human CXCR4. BILF1 impaired CXCL12 binding to CXCR4 and, consequently, also CXCL12-induced signaling. In contrast, the G protein uncoupled mutant BILF1-K(3.50)A affected CXCL12-induced CXCR4 signaling to a much lesser extent, indicating that BILF1-mediated CXCR4 inhibition is a consequence of its constitutive activity. Co-expression of G?(i1) with BILF1 and CXCR4 restored CXCL12-induced signaling. Likewise, BILF1 formed heteromers with the human histamine H(4) receptor (H(4)R). BILF1 inhibited histamine-induced G?(i)-mediated signaling by H(4)R, however, without affecting histamine binding to this receptor. These data indicate that functional cross-regulation of G?(i)-coupled GPCRs by BILF1 is at the level of G proteins, even though these GPCRs are assembled in hetero-oligomeric complexes.
Viral G-protein-coupled receptors (vGPCRs) are chemokine receptor homologues encoded by the Herpes- and Capripoxviridae. They are thought to have been hijacked from the host genome during the course of evolution. These vGPCRs play different roles in the viral lifecycle and associated pathologies. Three members of the Herpesviridae, Kaposi sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (KSHV), Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) and human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) are capable of setting up persistent latent infections in humans. Two of the herpesviruses, KSHV and EBV, are associated with cancer, while HCMV may have an oncomodulary effect. The vGPCRs may contribute to the escape of immune surveillance and (constitutively) activate signaling pathways linked to proliferation and inflammation. Some vGPCRs induce activation of autocrine and paracrine signaling, resulting in secretion of growth factors and/or cytokines. As a result, vGPCRs effectively rewire cellular signaling networks. Delineating the cellular signaling networks modulated by these vGPCRs will be crucial for treatment of virus-associated pathologies.
US28 is a constitutively active chemokine receptor encoded by CMV (also referred to as human herpesvirus 5), a highly prevalent human virus that infects a broad spectrum of cells, including intestinal epithelial cells (IECs). To study the role of US28 in vivo, we created transgenic mice (VS28 mice) in which US28 expression was targeted to IECs. Expression of US28 was detected in all IECs of the small and large intestine, including in cells expressing leucine rich repeat containing GPCR5 (Lgr5), a marker gene of intestinal epithelial stem cells. US28 expression in IECs inhibited glycogen synthase 3? (GSK-3?) function, promoted accumulation of ?-catenin protein, and increased expression of Wnt target genes involved in the control of the cell proliferation. VS28 mice showed a hyperplastic intestinal epithelium and, strikingly, developed adenomas and adenocarcinomas by 40 weeks of age. When exposed to an inflammation-driven tumor model (azoxymethane/dextran sodium sulfate), VS28 mice developed a significantly higher tumor burden than control littermates. Transgenic coexpression of the US28 ligand CCL2 (an inflammatory chemokine) increased IEC proliferation as well as tumor burden, suggesting that the oncogenic activity of US28 can be modulated by inflammatory factors. Together, these results indicate that expression of US28 promotes development of intestinal dysplasia and cancer in transgenic mice and suggest that CMV infection may facilitate development of intestinal neoplasia in humans.
Human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) encodes the seven transmembrane(7TM)/G-protein coupled receptor (GPCR) US28, which signals and endocytoses in a constitutive, ligand-independent manner. Here we show that, following endocytosis, US28 is targeted to the lysosomes for degradation as a consequence of its interaction with the GPCR-associated sorting protein-1 (GASP-1). We find that GASP-1 binds to US28 in vitro and that disruption of the GASP-1/US28 interaction by either (i) overexpression of dominant negative cGASP-1 or by (ii) shRNA knock-down of endogenous GASP-1 is sufficient to inhibit the lysosomal targeting of US28 and slow its post-endocytic degradation. Furthermore, we found that GASP-1 affects US28-mediated signalling. The knock-down of endogenous GASP-1 impairs the US28-mediated Galphaq/PLC/inositol phosphate (IP) accumulation as well as the activation of the transcription factors Nuclear Factor-kappaB (NF-kappaB) and cyclic AMP responsive element binding protein (CREB). Overexpression of GASP-1 enhances both IP accumulation and transcription factor activity. Thus, GASP-1 is an important cellular determinant that not only regulates the post-endocytic trafficking of US28, but also regulates the signalling capacities of US28.
Human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) is a widespread human pathogen, possessing onco-modulatory properties. Constitutive signaling of the HCMV-encoded chemokine receptor US28 and its ability to bind a broad spectrum of chemokines might facilitate HCMV-associated tumor progression. Novel nonpeptidergic chemotypes were identified as neutral antagonists or inverse agonists on US28, that allosterically inhibit chemokine binding to US28.
Human herpesviruses (HHVs) are widespread pathogens involved in proliferative diseases, inflammatory conditions, and cardiovascular diseases. During evolution, homologs of human chemokine receptors were integrated into the HHV genomes. In addition to binding endogenous chemokines, these viral G protein-coupled receptors (vGPCRs) have acquired the ability to signal in a constitutive manner. Ligand-induced and ligand-independent and autocrine and paracrine signaling properties of vGPCRs modify the functions of the expressing cells and lead to transformation and escape from immune surveillance. Furthermore, cross-talk or heterodimerization with endogenous chemokine receptors represent other ways for vGPCRs to modify intracellular signaling and cellular functions. As such, these viral receptors seem to play a prominent role during viral pathogenesis and life cycle and thus represent innovative antiviral therapies.
The CC chemokine CCL14a is constitutively expressed in a large variety of tissues and its inactive proform CCL14a(1-74) circulates in high concentrations in plasma. CCL14a(1-74) is converted into CCL14a(9-74) by the proteases urokinase-type plasminogen activator and plasmin and is a highly active agonist for the chemokine receptors CCR1 and CCR5. In this study, a new CCL14a analog, CCL14a(12-74), was isolated from blood filtrate. To elucidate the functional role of the N terminus, a panel of N-terminally truncated CCL14a analogs were tested on the receptors CCR1 to CCR5 and on the human cytomegalovirus (HCMV)-encoded chemokine receptor US28. The rank order of binding affinity to these receptors and of the activation of CCR1 and CCR5-mediated intracellular Ca(2+) concentration mobilization is CCL14a(6-74)<(7-74)<(8-74)<(9-74) = (10-74)>(11-74)>(12-74). The almost identical affinities of CCL14a(7-74), CCL14a(9-74), and CCL14a(10-74) for the US28 receptor and the inhibition of US28-mediated HIV infection of 293T cells by all of the N-terminally truncated CCL14a analogs support the promiscuous nature of the viral chemokine receptor US28. In high concentrations, CCL14a(12-74) did reveal antagonistic activity on intracellular Ca(2+) concentration mobilization in CCR1- and CCR5-transfected cells, which suggests that truncation of Tyr(11) might be of significance for an efficient inactivation of CCL14a. A putative inactivation pathway of CCL14a(9-74) to CCL14a(12-74) may involve the dipeptidase CD26/dipeptidyl peptidase IV (DPPIV), which generates CCL14a(11-74), and the metalloprotease aminopeptidase N (CD13), which displays the capacity to generate CCL14a(12-74) from CCL14a(11-74). Our results suggest that the activity of CCL14a might be regulated by stringent proteolytic activation and inactivation steps.
Human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) is a widely spread herpesvirus that can have serious consequences in immunocompromised hosts. Interestingly, HCMV genome encodes for four viral G protein-coupled receptors (vGPCRs), namely, US27, US28, UL33, and UL78. Thus far, US28 and UL33 have been shown to activate signaling pathways in a ligand-independent manner. US28 is the best characterized vGPCR and has been shown to be potentially involved in the development of HCMV-related diseases. As such, detailed investigation of these viral GPCR is of importance in order to understand molecular events occurring during viral pathogenesis and the potential identification of novel therapeutic targets. Herewith, we describe several approaches to study these HCMV-encoded vGPCRs. Using molecular biology, tags can be introduced in the vGPCRs, which may facilitate the study of their protein expression with various techniques, such as microscopy, Western blotting, enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA), and flow cytometry. Furthermore, radioligand binding studies can be performed to screen for ligands for vGPCRs, but also to study kinetics of internalization. We also describe several signal transduction assays that can evaluate the signaling activity of these vGPCRs. In addition, we discuss different proliferation assays and an in vivo xenograft model that were used to identify the oncogenic potential of US28. The study of these vGPCRs in their viral context can be examined using recombinant HCMV strains generated by bacterial artificial chromosome mutagenesis. Finally, we show how these mutants can be used in several pharmacological and biochemical assays.
Smaller stones with a wide variety of colors make a higher resolution mosaic. In much the same way, smaller chemical entities that are structurally diverse are better able to interrogate protein binding sites. This feature article describes the construction of a diverse fragment library and an analysis of the screening of six representative protein targets belonging to three diverse target classes (G protein-coupled receptors ADRB2, H1R, H3R, and H4R, the ligand-gated ion channel 5-HT3R, and the kinase PKA) using chemogenomics approaches. The integration of experimentally determined bioaffinity profiles across related and unrelated protein targets and chemogenomics analysis of fragment binding and protein structure allow the identification of: (i) unexpected similarities and differences in ligand binding properties, and (ii) subtle ligand affinity and selectivity cliffs. With a wealth of fragment screening data being generated in industry and academia, such approaches will contribute to a more detailed structural understanding of ligand-protein interactions.
Chronic activation of Wnt/?-catenin signaling is found in a variety of human malignancies including melanoma, colorectal and hepatocellular carcinomas. Interestingly, expression of the HCMV-encoded chemokine receptor US28 in intestinal epithelial cells promotes intestinal neoplasia in transgenic mice, which is associated with increased nuclear accumulation of ?-catenin. In this study we show that this viral receptor constitutively activates ?-catenin and enhances ?-catenin-dependent transcription. Our data illustrate that this viral receptor does not activate ?-catenin via the classical Wnt/Frizzled signaling pathway. Analysis of US28 mediated signaling indicates the involvement of the Rho-Rho kinase (ROCK) pathway in the activation of ?-catenin. Moreover, cells infected with HCMV show significant increases in ?-catenin stabilization and signaling, which is mediated to a large extent by expression of US28. The modulation of the ?-catenin signal transduction pathway by a viral chemokine receptor provides alternative regulation of this pathway, with potential relevance for the development of colon cancer and virus-associated diseases.
Virtual fragment screening (VFS) is a promising new method that uses computer models to identify small, fragment-like biologically active molecules as useful starting points for fragment-based drug discovery (FBDD). Training sets of true active and inactive fragment-like molecules to construct and validate target customized VFS methods are however lacking. We have for the first time explored the possibilities and challenges of VFS using molecular fingerprints derived from a unique set of fragment affinity data for the histamine H(3) receptor (H(3)R), a pharmaceutically relevant G protein-coupled receptor (GPCR). Optimized FLAP (Fingerprints of Ligands and Proteins) models containing essential molecular interaction fields that discriminate known H(3)R binders from inactive molecules were successfully used for the identification of new H(3)R ligands. Prospective virtual screening of 156,090 molecules yielded a high hit rate of 62% (18 of the 29 tested) experimentally confirmed novel fragment-like H(3)R ligands that offer new potential starting points for the design of H(3)R targeting drugs. The first construction and application of customized FLAP models for the discovery of fragment-like biologically active molecules demonstrates that VFS is an efficient way to explore protein-fragment interaction space in silico.
After the recent description of ?-arrestin2 recruitment to the human histamine H? receptor (hH?R) in response to the well known H?R antagonist 1-[(5-chloro-1H-indol-2-yl)carbonyl]-4-methyl-piperazine (JNJ 7777120), we evaluated in this study the efficacy of 31 known hH?R ligands to induce G?(i) protein signaling and ?-arrestin2 recruitment by the hH?R. The selected hH(4)R ligands belong to nine different structural classes that partly cover (pre)clinical trial candidates. We have identified hH?R ligands with a significant bias for the G?(i) protein or ?-arrestin2 pathway on the basis of efficacy differences. In addition, hH?R antagonists that did not show positive efficacy in either functional readouts were found. A common trend in pathway preference for the nine different ligand classes could not be observed. In particular, the isothiourea class shows very diverse results, varying from G?(i) protein-biased or ?-arrestin2-biased to nonbiased antagonists upon minor structural changes. The identified biased hH?R ligands are important pharmacological tools to unravel the significance of biased hH?R signaling in H?R pharmacology.
In this study, we developed an in-line methodology that combines analytical with pharmacological techniques to characterize metabolites of human histamine H(4) receptor (hH(4)R) ligands. Liquid chromatographic separation of metabolic mixtures is coupled to high-resolution fractionation into 96- or 384-well plates and directly followed by a cell-based reporter gene assay to measure receptor signaling. The complete methodology was designed, optimized, validated, and ultimately miniaturized into a high-density well plate format. Finally, the methodology was demonstrated in a metabolic profiling setting for three hH(4)R lead compounds and the drug clozapine. This new methodology comprises integrated analytical separations, mass spectrometry, and a cell-based signal transduction-driven reporter gene assay that enables the implementation of comprehensive metabolic profiling earlier in the drug discovery process.
The histamine H4 receptor (H4R) is the youngest member of the histamine receptor family. Based on its predominant expression pattern in hematopoietic cells, the H4R is considered to be an interesting drug target for inflammatory disorders such as allergy and asthma. Since the identification and cloning of the H4R in 2000, drug discovery programs boosted the development of various H4R (specific) ligands. Differences between H4R orthologs in combination with available three-dimensional G protein-coupled receptor (GPCR) models have guided site-directed mutagenesis studies to gain insight in ligand binding and receptor activation. In addition, ongoing characterization of H4R-mediated signaling in transfected and native cells contributes to further unravel the (patho-) physiological functions of H4Rs.
We present the systematic prospective evaluation of a protein-based and a ligand-based virtual screening platform against a set of three G-protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs): the ?-2 adrenoreceptor (ADRB2), the adenosine A(2A) receptor (AA2AR), and the sphingosine 1-phosphate receptor (S1PR1). Novel bioactive compounds were identified using a consensus scoring procedure combining ligand-based (frequent substructure ranking) and structure-based (Snooker) tools, and all 900 selected compounds were screened against all three receptors. A striking number of ligands showed affinity/activity for GPCRs other than the intended target, which could be partly attributed to the fuzziness and overlap of protein-based pharmacophore models. Surprisingly, the phosphodiesterase 5 (PDE5) inhibitor sildenafil was found to possess submicromolar affinity for AA2AR. Overall, this is one of the first published prospective chemogenomics studies that demonstrate the identification of novel cross-pharmacology between unrelated protein targets. The lessons learned from this study can be used to guide future virtual ligand design efforts.
The chemokine receptor CXCR3 is a G-protein-coupled receptor that signals through the G?(i) class of heterotrimeric G-proteins. CXCR3 is highly expressed on activated T cells and has been proposed to be a therapeutic target in autoimmune disease. CXCR3 is activated by the chemokines CXCL9, CXCL10 and CXCL11. CXCR3 signaling properties in response to CXCL10, CXCL11 and the synthetic agonist VUF10661 have previously been evaluated using conventional endpoint assays. In the present study, label-free impedance measurements were used to characterize holistic responses of CXCR3-expressing cells to stimulation with chemokines and VUF10661 in real time and to compare these responses with both G-protein and non-G-protein (?-arrestin2) mediated responses. Differences in response kinetics were apparent between the chemokines and VUF10661. Moreover, CXCR3-independent effects could be distinguished from CXCR3-specific responses with the use of the selective CXCR3 antagonist NBI-74330 and the G?(i) inhibitor pertussis toxin. By comparing the various responses, we observed that CXCL9 is a biased CXCR3 agonist, stimulating solely G-protein-dependent pathways. Moreover, CXCR3-mediated changes in cellular impedance correlated with G-protein signaling, but not ?-arrestin2 recruitment.
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