In order to obtain a metabolically more stable analgesic peptide derivative, O-β-glycosylated serine (Ser(Glc)) was introduced into TY027 (Tyr-D-Ala-Gly-Phe-Met-Pro-Leu-Trp-NH-3’,5’-Bzl(CF3)2) which was a previously reported bifunctional compound with delta/mu opioid agonist and neurokinin-1 receptor antagonist activities, and with a half life of 4.8 h in rat plasma. Incorporation of Ser(Glc) into various positions of TY027 gave analogues with variable bioactivities. Analogue 6 (Tyr-D-Ala-Gly-Phe-Nle-Pro-Leu-Ser(Glc)-Trp-NH-3’,5’-Bzl(CF3)2) was found to have effective bifunctional activities with a well-defined conformation with two β-turns based on the NMR conformational analysis in the presence of DPC micelles. In addition, 6 showed significant improvement in its metabolic stability (70 ± 9 % of 6 was intact after 24 h incubation in rat plasma). This improved metabolic stability, along with its effective and delta selective bifunctional activities, suggests that 6 could be an interesting research tool and possibly a promising candidate as a novel analgesic drug.
bifunctional peptide derivatives; glycopeptides; analgesics; opioid induced tolerance; opioid receptor agonist; neurokinin-1 receptor antagonist; conformation-activity relationships; NMR structure; DPC micelles
Multivalent ligands with delta/mu opioid agonist and NK1 antagonist activities have shown promising analgesic potency without detectable sign of toxicities, including motor skill impairment and opioid-induced tolerance. To improve their biological activities and metabolic stability, structural optimization was performed on our peptide-derived lead compounds by introducing 2′, 6′-Dimethyl-L-Tyrosine (Dmt) instead of Tyr at the first position. The compound 7 (Dmt-D-Ala-Gly-Phe-MetPro-Leu-Trp-NH-[3′,5′-(CF3)2-Bzl]) showed improved multivalent bioactivities compared to those of the lead compounds, had more than 6 h half-life in rat plasma, and significant antinociceptive efficacy in vivo. The NMR structural analysis suggested that Dmt1 incorporation in compound 7 induces the structured conformation in the opioid pharmacophore (N-terminus), and simultaneously shifts the orientation of the NK1 pharmacophore (C-terminus), consistent with its affinities and activities at both opioid and NK1 receptors. These results indicate that compound 7 is a valuable research tool to seek a novel analgesic drug.
analgesics; bifunctional peptide derivatives; 2′, 6′-Dimethyl-L-Tyrosine; DPC micelle; opioid induced tolerance; opioid receptor agonist; neurokinin-1 receptor antagonist; NMR structure
Neuropathic pain states and tolerance to opioids can result from system changes in the CNS, such as up-regulation of the NK1 receptor and substance P, which have anti-opioid effects in ascending or descending pain-signaling pathways. Bifunctional compounds, possessing both the NK1 antagonist pharmacophore and the opioid agonist pharmacophore with delta-selectivity, could counteract these system changes to have significant analgesic efficacy without undesirable side effects. As a result of the introduction of cyclic and topological constraints with penicillamines, 2 (Tyr-cyclo[D-Pen-Gly-Phe-Pen]-Pro-Leu-Trp-NH-[3′,5′-(CF3)2-Bzl]) was found as the best bifunctional compound with effective NK1 antagonist and potent opioid agonist activities, and 1400-fold delta-selectivity over the mu-receptor. The NMR structural analysis of 2 revealed that the relative positioning of the two connected pharmacophores as well as its cyclic and topological constraints might be responsible for its excellent bifunctional activities as well as its significant delta-opioid selectivity. Together with the observed high metabolic stability, 2 could be considered as a valuable research tool and possibly a promising candidate for a novel analgesic drug.
bifunctional compound; opioid receptor agonists; neutokinin-1 receptor antagonists; NMR structure; membrane-compound interaction
In order to improve metabolic stability, a ring structure with a cystine moiety was introduced into TY027 (Tyr-D-Ala-Gly-Phe-Met-Pro-Leu-Trp-NH-[3’,5’-(CF3)2Bzl]), which is a lead compound of our developing bifunctional peptide possessing opioid agonist and NK1 antagonist activities. TY038 (Tyr-cyclo[D-Cys-Gly-Phe-Met-Pro-D-Cys]-Trp-NH-[3’,5’-(CF3)2Bzl]) was found as a highly selective δ opioid agonist over μ receptor in conventional tissue-based assays, together with an effective NK1 antagonist activity and good metabolic stability with more than 24 h half life in rat plasma.
bifunctional compounds; disulfide bond; opioid agonists; neutokinin-1 antagonists; metabolic stability
Studies have demonstrated that long-term opioid treatment leads to an increased sensitivity to painful (hyperalgesia) or normally innocuous (allodynia) stimuli. The molecular mechanisms that lead to paradoxical pain sensitization upon chronic opioid treatment are not completely understood. Enhanced excitatory pain neurotransmitter (such as calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP)) release in the dorsal horn of the spinal cord may play a role in sustained morphine-mediated paradoxical pain. Recently we have demonstrated that inhibition of Raf-1 attenuates sustained morphine treatment-mediated augmentation of CGRP release in vitro, in cultured primary sensory neurons. In the present study, we show that knockdown of spinal Raf-1 levels in vivo by intrathecal administration of Raf-1-specific siRNA attenuates sustained morphine-mediated thermal hyperalgesia in rats.
Opioids; Morphine; Raf-1; Hyperalgesia
In order to provide new insight into the determining factors of membrane-bound peptide conformation which might play an important role in peptide-receptor docking and further biological behaviors, the dodecylphosphocholine (DPC) micelle-bound conformations of bifunctional peptide derivatives of δ-preferring opioid agonists and NK1 antagonists (1: Tyr-D-Ala-Gly-Phe-Met-Pro-Leu-Trp-O-3,5-Bzl(CF3)2; 2: Tyr-D-Ala-Gly-Phe-Met-Pro-Leu-Trp-NH-3,5-Bzl(CF3)2; 3: Tyr-D-Ala-Gly-Phe-Met-Pro-Leu-Trp-NH-Bzl) were determined based on 2D NMR studies. Although the differences in the primary sequence were limited to the C-terminus, the obtained NMR conformations were unexpectedly different for each compound. Moreover, their biological activities showed different trends in direct relation to the compound-specific conformations in DPC micelles. The important result is that not only were the NK1 antagonist activities different (the pharmacophore located at the C-terminus), but the opioid agonist activities (this pharmacophore was at the structurally preserved N-terminus) also were shifted, suggesting that a general conformational change in the bioactive state was induced due to relatively small and limited structural modifications.
bifunctional peptides; analgesics; opioid induced tolerance; opioid receptor agonists; neurokinin-1 receptor antagonists; structure-activity relationships; NMR structure; DPC micelles; conformation; fluorine
A series of bifunctional peptides with opioid agonist and substance P antagonist bioactivities were designed with the concept of overlapping pharmacophores. In this concept, the bifunctional peptides were expected to interact with each receptor separately in the spinal dorsal horn where both the opioid receptors and the NK1 receptors were found to be expressed, to show an enhanced analgesic effect, no opioid-induced tolerance, and to provide better compliance than coadministration of two drugs. Compounds were synthesized using a two-step combinatorial method for C-terminal modification. In the method, the protected C-terminal-free carboxyl peptide, Boc-Tyr(tBu)-d-Ala-Gly Phe-Pro-Leu-Trp(Boc)-OH, was synthesized as a shared intermediate using Fmoc solid phase chemistry on a 2-chlorotrityl resin. This intermediate was esterified or amidated in solution phase. The structure–activity relationships (SAR) showed that the C-terminus acted as not only a critical pharmacophore for the substance P antagonist activities, but as an address region for the opioid agonist pharmacophore that is structurally distant from the C-terminal. Among the peptides, H-Tyr-d-Ala-Gly-Phe-Pro-Leu-Trp-NH-Bzl (3) demonstrated high binding affinities at both δ and μ receptors (Ki = 10 and 0.65 nM, respectively) with efficient agonist functional activity in the mouse isolated vas deferens (MVD) and guinea pig isolated ileum (GPI) assays (IC50 = 50 and 13 nM, respectively). Compound 3 also showed a good antagonist activity in the GPI assay with substance P stimulation (Ke = 26 nM) and good affinity for the hNK1 receptor (Ki = 14 nM). Consequently, compound 3 is expected to be a promising and novel type of analgesic with bifunctional activities.
Agonist-mediated desensitization of the opioid receptors is thought to function as a protective mechanism against sustained opioid signaling and therefore may prevent the development of opioid tolerance. However, the exact molecular mechanism of opioid receptor desensitization remains unresolved because of difficulties in measuring and interpreting receptor desensitization. In the present study, we investigated deltorphin II-mediated rapid desensitization of the human δ opioid receptors (hDOR) by measuring guanosine 5′-O-(3-[35S]thio)-triphosphate binding and inhibition of cAMP accumulation. We developed a mathematical analysis based on the operational model of agonist action (Black et al., 1985) to calculate the proportion of desensitized receptors. This approach permits a correct analysis of the complex process of functional desensitization by taking into account receptor-effector coupling and the time dependence of agonist pretreatment. Finally, we compared hDOR desensitization with receptor phosphorylation at Ser363, the translocation of β-arrestin2, and hDOR internalization. We found that in Chinese hamster ovary cells expressing the hDOR, deltorphin II treatment leads to phosphorylation of Ser363, translocation of β-arrestin2 to the plasma membrane, receptor internalization, and uncoupling from G proteins. It is noteworthy that mutation of the primary phosphorylation site Ser363 to alanine had virtually no effect on agonist-induced β-arrestin2 translocation and receptor internalization yet significantly attenuated receptor desensitization. These results strongly indicate that phosphorylation of Ser363 is the primary mechanism of hDOR desensitization.
Recent studies suggest that sustained morphine-mediated paradoxical pain may play an important role in the development of analgesic tolerance. The intracellular signal transduction pathways involved in sustained opioid mediated augmentation of spinal pain neurotransmitter (such as calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP)) release are not fully clarified. Cyclic AMP (cAMP)-dependent protein kinase (PKA) plays an important role in the modulation of presynaptic neurotransmitter release. Moreover, we have shown earlier that sustained opioid agonist treatment leads to a Raf-1-dependent sensitization of adenylyl cyclase(s) (AC superactivation), augmenting forskolin-stimulated cAMP formation upon opioid withdrawal (cAMP overshoot). Therefore, in the present study we examined the role of Raf-1 in sustained morphine-mediated regulation of cAMP formation and basal CGRP release in vitro, in cultured neonatal rat dorsal root ganglion (DRG) neurons. We found that sustained morphine treatment significantly augments intracellular cAMP production as well as basal CGRP release from cultured neonatal rat DRG neurons. The selective PKA inhibitor, H-89, attenuates the sustained morphine-mediated augmentation of basal CGRP release, indicating that the cAMP/PKA pathway plays an important role in regulation of CGRP release from sensory neurons. Since our present data also demonstrated that selective Raf-1 inhibitor, GW 5074, attenuated both the cAMP overshoot and the augmentation of CGRP release mediated by sustained morphine in neonatal rat DRG neurons, we suggest that Raf-1-mediated sensitization of the intracellular cAMP formation may play an important role in sustained morphine-mediated augmentation of spinal pain neurotransmitter release.
Morphine; CGRP; Raf-1; cAMP; PKA; Dorsal root ganglion neurons
Cannabinoid drugs differ in their rank order of potency to produce analgesia versus other central nervous system effects. We propose that these differences are due to unique agonist-bound cannabinoid CB1 receptor conformations that exhibit different affinities for individual subsets of intracellular signal transduction pathways. In order to test this hypothesis, we have used plasmon-waveguide resonance (PWR) spectroscopy, a sensitive method that can provide direct information about ligand-protein and protein-protein interactions, and can detect conformational changes in lipid-embedded proteins. A recombinant epitope-tagged human cannabinoid CB1 receptor was expressed in insect Sf9 cells, solubilized and purified using two-step affinity chromatography. The purified receptor was incorporated into a lipid bilayer on the surface of the PWR resonator. PWR spectroscopy demonstrated that cannabinoid agonists exhibit high affinity (KD = 0.2 ± 0.03 nM and 2 ± 0.4 nM for CP 55,940 and WIN 55,212-2, respectively) for the purified epitope tagged hCB1 receptor. Interestingly however, these structurally different cannabinoid agonists shifted the PWR spectra in opposite directions, indicating that CP 55,940 and WIN 55,212-2 binding leads to different hCB1 receptor conformations. Furthermore, PWR experiments also indicated that these CP 55,940- and WIN 55,212 - bound hCB1 receptor conformations exhibit slightly different affinities to an inhibitory G protein heterotrimer, Gi1 (KD = 27 ± 8 nM and KD = 10.7 ± 4.7 nM, respectively), whereas they strikingly differ in their ability to activate this G protein type.
trafficking; G proteins; PWR spectroscopy; functional selectivity
Melanocortin hormones and neurotransmitters regulate a vast array of physiologic processes by interacting with five G-protein-coupled melanocortin receptor types. In the present study, we have systematically studied the regulation of individual human melanocortin receptor wild subtypes using a synthetic rhodamine-labeled human melanotropin agonist and antagonist, arrestins fused to green fluorescent protein in conjunction with two-photon fluorescence laser scanning microscopy and confocal microscopy. Stimulation of the melanocortin receptors by its cognate agonist triggered rapid arrestin recruitment and receptor internalization for all four human melanocortin receptors examined. Antagonists-bound melanocortin receptors, on the other hand, did not recruit β-arrestins, and remained in the cell membrane even after long-term (30 min) treatment. Agonist-mediated internalization of all melanocortin receptor subtypes was sensitive to inhibitors of clathrin-dependent endocytosis, but not to caveolae inhibitors. In summary, agonist-mediated internalization of all subtypes of melanocortin receptors are dependent upon β-arrestin-mediated clathrin-coated pits, whereas, β-arrestin-2 conjugated green fluorescence protein (β-arrestin-2-GFP) recruitment is not dependent on protein kinase A activation. Real time two-photon fluorescence laser scanning microscopy is a most powerful tool to study the dynamic processes in living cells and tissues, without inflicting significant and often lethal damage to the specimen.
β-arrestin; green fluorescence protein; melanocortin receptors; MTII; rhodamine; SHU-9119; two-photon fluorescence laser scanning microscopy
A series of bifunctional peptides that act as agonists for δ and μ opioid receptors with δ selectivity and as antagonist for neurokinin-1 (NK1) receptors were designed and synthesized for potential application as analgesics in various pain states. The peptides were characterized using radioligand binding assays and functional assays using cell membrane and animal tissue. Optimization was performed on the fifth residue which serves as an address moiety for both receptor recognitions. It had critical effects on both activities at δ/μ opioid receptors and NK1 receptors. Among the synthesized peptides, H-Tyr-D-Ala-Gly-Phe-Met-Pro-Leu-Trp-O-3,5-Bzl(CF3)2 (5) and H-Tyr-D-Ala-Gly-Phe-Nle-Pro-Leu-Trp-O-3,5-Bzl(CF3)2 (7) had excellent agonist activity for both δ opioid and μ opioid receptors and excellent antagonist activity for NK1 receptors. These results indicate that the rational design of multifunctional ligands with opioid agonist and neurokinin-1 antagonist activities can be accomplished and may provide a new tool for treatment of chronic and several pain states.
New modalities providing safe and effective treatment of pain, especially prolonged pathological pain, have not appeared despite much effort. In this mini-review/overview we suggest that new paradigms of drug design are required to counter the underlying changes that occur in the nervous system that may elicit chronic pain states. We illustrate this approach with the example of designing, in a single ligand, molecules that have agonist activity at μ and δ opioid receptors and antagonist activities at cholecystokinin (CCK) receptors. Our findings thus far provide evidence in support of this new approach to drug design. We also report on a new biophysical method, plasmon waveguide resonance (PWR) spectroscopy, which can provide new insights into information transduction in G-protein coupled receptors (GPCRs) as illustrated by the δ opioid receptor.
drug design; neuropathic pain; bifunctional ligands; plasmon waveguide resonance spectroscopy; GPCRs; opioid receptors; cholecystokinin receptors
The ability of neutral polymer cushions to support neutral lipid bilayers for the incorporation of mobile transmembrane proteins was investigated. Polyacrylamide brush layers were grown on fused silica using atom-transfer radical polymerization to provide polymer layers of 2.5-, 5- and 10-nm thickness. Lipid bilayers composed of POPC (1-palmitoyl-2-oleoyl-sn-glycero-3-phosphocholine) were formed by vesicle fusion onto bare fused silica and onto each of the polyacrylamide layers. Bilayer fluidity was assessed by the diffusion of a probe, NBD-labeled phosphatidylcholine, using fluorescence recovery after photobleaching. A transmembrane protein, the human delta-opioid receptor, was inserted into each lipid bilayer, and its ability to bind a synthetic ligand, DPDPE, cyclic[2-d-penicillamine, 5-d-penicillamine]enkephalin, was detected using single-molecule fluorescence spectroscopy by labeling this ligand with a rhodamine dye. The transmembrane protein was observed to bind the ligand for all bilayers tested. The protein's electrophoretic mobility was probed by monitoring the fluorescence from the bound ligand. The 5-nm polyacrylamide thickness gave the fastest diffusion for the fluorescent lipid probe (D1 = 2.0(±1.2) × 10-7 and D2 = 1.2(±0.5) × 10-6 cm2/s) and also the largest electrophoretic mobility for the transmembrane protein (3 × 10-8 cm2/V·s). The optimum in polymer thickness is suggested to be a tradeoff between decoupling from the substrate and increasing roughness of the polymer surface.
New modalities providing safe and effective treatment of pain, especially prolonged pathological pain, have not appeared despite much effort. In this mini-review/overview we suggest that new paradigms of drug design are required to counter the underlying changes that occur in the nervous system that may elicit chronic pain states. We illustrate this approach with the example of designing, in a single ligand, molecules that have agonist activity at μ and σ opioid receptors and antagonist activities at cholecystokinin (CCK) receptors. Our findings thus far provide evidence in support of this new approach to drug design. We also report on a new biophysical method, plasmon waveguide resonance (PWR) spectroscopy, which can provide new insights into information transduction in g-protein coupled receptors (GPCRs) as illustrated by the δ opioid receptor.
drug design; neuropathic pain; bifunctional ligands; plasmon waveguide resonance spectroscopy; GPCRs; opioid receptors; cholecystokinin receptors
The potential modulation of TRPV1 nociceptive activity by the CB1 receptor was investigated here using CB1 wildtype (WT) and knock-out (KO) mice as well as selective CB1 inverse agonists. No significant differences were detected in baseline thermal thresholds of ICR, CB1WT or CB1KO mice. Intraplantar capsaicin produced dose- and time-related paw flinch responses in ICR and CB1WT mice and induced plasma extravasation yet minimal responses were seen in CB1KO animals with no apparent differences in TRPV1 channel expression. Capsaicin-evoked CGRP release from spinal cord tissue and capsaicin-evoked action potentials on isolated skin-nerve preparation were significantly decreased in CB1KO mice. Pretreatment with intraplantar galanin and bradykinin, compounds known to sensitize TRPV1 receptors, restored capsaicin-induced flinching in CB1KO mice. The possibility that constitutive activity at the CB1 receptor is required to maintain the TRPV1 receptor in a “sensitized” state was tested using CB1 inverse agonists. The CB1 inverse agonists elicited concentration-related inhibition of capsaicin-induced calcium influx in F-11 cells and produced dose-related inhibition of capsaicin-induced flinching in ICR mice. These data suggest that constitutive activity at the CB1 receptor maintains the TRPV1 channel in a sensitized state responsive to noxious chemical stimuli. Treatment with CB1 inverse agonists may promote desensitization of the channel resulting in antinociceptive actions against chemical stimulus modalities. These studies propose possible therapeutic exploitation of a novel mechanism providing pain relief by CB1 inverse agonists.
TRPV1; CB1; Capsaicin; PIP2; phospholipase C; knockout mouse