Selective Orthosteric Free Fatty Acid Receptor 2 (FFA2) Agonists IDENTIFICATION OF THE STRUCTURAL AND CHEMICAL REQUIREMENTS FOR SELECTIVE ACTIVATION OF FFA2 VERSUS FFA3

Johannes Schmidt, Nicola J. Smith, Elisabeth Christiansen, Irina G. Tikhonova, Manuel Grundmann, Brian D. Hudson, Richard J. Ward, Christel Drewke, Graeme Milligan, Evi Kostenis, Trond Ulven

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Abstract

Free fatty acid receptor 2 (FFA2; GPR43) is a G protein-coupled seven-transmembrane receptor for short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs) that is implicated in inflammatory and metabolic disorders. The SCFA propionate has close to optimal ligand efficiency for FFA2 and can hence be considered as highly potent given its size. Propionate, however, does not discriminate between FFA2 and the closely related receptor FFA3 (GPR41). To identify FFA2-selective ligands and understand the molecular basis for FFA2 selectivity, a targeted library of small carboxylic acids was examined using holistic, label-free dynamic mass redistribution technology for primary screening and the receptor-proximal G protein [S-35] guanosine 5'-(3-O-thio) triphosphate activation, inositol phosphate, and cAMP accumulation assays for hit confirmation. Structure-activity relationship analysis allowed formulation of a general rule to predict selectivity for small carboxylic acids at the orthosteric binding site where ligands with substituted sp(3)-hybridized alpha-carbons preferentially activate FFA3, whereas ligands with sp(2)- or sp-hybridized alpha-carbons prefer FFA2. The orthosteric binding mode was verified by site-directed mutagenesis: replacement of orthosteric site arginine residues by alanine in FFA2 prevented ligand binding, and molecular modeling predicted the detailed mode of binding. Based on this, selective mutation of three residues to their non-conserved counterparts in FFA3 was sufficient to transfer FFA3 selectivity to FFA2. Thus, selective activation of FFA2 via the orthosteric site is achievable with rather small ligands, a finding with significant implications for the rational design of therapeutic compounds selectively targeting the SCFA receptors.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)10628-10640
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Volume286
Issue number12
Early online date10 Jan 2011
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 25 Mar 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Cell Biology
  • Molecular Biology

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