The agonism and synergistic potentiation of weak partial agonists by triethylamine in alpha(1)-adrenergic receptor activation: Evidence for a salt bridge as the initiating process

J E Porter, S E Edelmann, D J Waugh, M T Piascik, D M Perez

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alpha(1)-adrenergic receptor (AR) activation is thought to be initiated by disruption of a constraining interhelical salt bridge (Porter et al., 1996). Disruption of this salt bridge is achieved through a competition for the aspartic acid residue in transmembrane domain three by the protonated amine of the endogenous ligand norepinephrine and a lysine residue in transmembrane domain seven. To further test this hypothesis, we investigated the possibility that a simple amine could mimic an important functional group of the endogenous ligand and break this alpha(1)-AR ionic constraint leading to agonism. Triethylamine (TEA) was able to generate concentration-dependent increases of soluble inositol phosphates in COS-1 cells transiently transfected with the hamster alpha(1b)-AR and in Rat-1 fibroblasts stably transfected with the human alpha(1a)-AR subtype. TEA was also able to synergistically potentiate the second messenger production by weak partial alpha(1)-AR agonists and this effect was fully inhibited by the alpha(1)-AR antagonist prazosin. However, this synergistic potentiation was not observed for full alpha(1)-AR agonists. Instead, TEA caused a parallel rightward shift of the dose-response curve, consistent with the properties of competitive antagonism. TEA specifically bound to a single population of alpha(1)-ARs with a K-i of 28.7 +/- 4.7 mM. In addition, the site of binding by TEA to the alpha(1)-AR is at the conserved aspartic acid residue in transmembrane domain three, which is part of the constraining salt bridge. These results indicate a direct interaction of TEA in the receptor agonist binding pocket that leads to a disruption of the constraining salt bridge, thereby initiating alpha(1)-AR activation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)766-771
Number of pages6
JournalMolecular Pharmacology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Apr 1998

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