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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Molecular determinants of melanocortin 4 receptor ligand binding and MC4/MC3 receptor selectivity.

The molecular basis of ligand recognition by the melanocortin 4 receptor (MC4R) has not been fully defined. In this study, we investigated the molecular determinants of MC4R ligand binding, employing a large array of ligands, using three approaches. First, molecular modeling of the receptor was used to identify Phe284, in transmembrane (TM) 7, as a potential site of ligand interaction. Mutation of Phe284 to alanine reduced binding affinity and potency of peptides containing L-Phe by up to 71-fold but did not appreciably affect binding of linear peptides containing D-Phe, consistent with a hydrophobic interaction between the Phe7 of alpha-melanocyte-stimulating hormone and Phe284. Second, we examined the effect of a naturally occurring mutation in TM3 (I137T) that is linked to obesity. This mutation decreased affinity and potency of cyclic, rigid peptides but not more flexible peptides, consistent with an indirect effect of the mutation on the tertiary structure of the receptor. Third, we examined the residues that support ligand selectivity for the MC4R over the MC3R. Mutation of Ile125 (TM3) of the MC4R to the equivalent residue of the MC3R (phenylalanine) selectively decreased affinity and potency of MC4R-selective ligands. This effect was mirrored by the reciprocal MC3R mutation F157I. The magnitude of this effect indicates that this locus is not of major importance. However, it is considered that an isoleucine/phenylalanine mutation may affect the orientation of Asp122, which has been identified as a major determinant of ligand binding affinity. Thus, this study provides further characterization of the MC4R binding pocket.[1]


  1. Molecular determinants of melanocortin 4 receptor ligand binding and MC4/MC3 receptor selectivity. Nickolls, S.A., Cismowski, M.I., Wang, X., Wolff, M., Conlon, P.J., Maki, R.A. J. Pharmacol. Exp. Ther. (2003) [Pubmed]
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