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Pepducin targeting the C-X-C chemokine receptor type 4 acts as a biased agonist favoring activation of the inhibitory G protein.

Quoyer J, Janz JM, Luo J, Ren Y, Armando S, Lukashova V, Benovic JL, Carlson KE, Hunt SW, Bouvier M

Department of Biochemistry and Institute for Research in Immunology and Cancer, Université de Montréal, Montreal, QC, Canada H3C 3J7.

Short lipidated peptide sequences derived from various intracellular loop regions of G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) are named pepducins and act as allosteric modulators of a number of GPCRs. Recently, a pepducin selectively targeting the C-X-C chemokine receptor type 4 (CXCR4) was found to be an allosteric agonist, active in both cell-based assays and in vivo. However, the precise mechanism of action of this class of ligands remains poorly understood. In particular, given the diversity of signaling effectors that can be engaged by a given receptor, it is not clear whether pepducins can show biased signaling leading to functional selectivity. To explore the ligand-biased potential of pepducins, we assessed the effect of the CXCR4 selective pepducin, ATI-2341, on the ability of the receptor to engage the inhibitory G proteins (Gi1, Gi2 and Gi3), G13, and β-arrestins. Using bioluminescence resonance energy transfer-based biosensors, we found that, in contrast to the natural CXCR4 ligand, stromal cell-derived factor-1α, which promotes the engagement of the three Gi subtypes, G13 and the two β-arrestins, ATI-2341 leads to the engagement of the Gi subtypes but not G13 or the β-arrestins. Calculation of the transduction ratio for each pathway revealed a strong negative bias of ATI-2341 toward G13 and β-arrestins, revealing functional selectivity for the Gi pathways. The negative bias toward β-arrestins results from the reduced ability of the pepducin to promote GPCR kinase-mediated phosphorylation of the receptor. In addition to revealing ligand-biased signaling of pepducins, these findings shed some light on the mechanism of action of a unique class of allosteric regulators.

Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 2013;110(52):E5088-97.

Pubmed ID: 24309376

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