Substance P (SP) is a peptide neurotransmitter found in central and peripheral nerves. SP is involved in the control of smooth muscle, inflammation and nociception. The amino acid sequence of SP is Arg-Pro-Lys-Pro-Gln-Gln-Phe-Phe-Gly-Leu-Met-NH2. Five different forms of fluorescently labeled SP have recently been synthesized, in which Alexa 488, BODIPY Fl, fluorescein, Oregon Green 488 or tetramethylrhodamine has been covalently linked to SP at Lys3. Here, these novel analogs are characterized as to their ligand binding, receptor activation and fluorescence labeling properties.
Competition binding studies, using radiolabeled [125I] SP, revealed that all of the labeled forms of SP, except for Alexa 488-SP, effectively competed with radiolabeled SP for binding at the rat SP receptor. With the exception of Alexa 488-SP, all of the SP analogs produced Ca++ elevations and fluorescence labeling of the SP receptor expressed in Chinese hamster ovary cells. In SP-responsive neurons, BODIPY Fl-SP and Oregon Green 488-SP were as effective as unlabeled SP in producing a reduction of the M-type K+ current. Fluorescein-SP produced variable results, while tetramethylrhodamine-SP was less potent and Alexa 488-SP was less effective on intact neurons.
The above results show that fluorescent labeling of SP altered the biological activity and the binding properties of the parent peptide. Oregon Green 488 and BODIPY FL-SP are the most useful fluorophores for labeling SP without affecting its biological activity. Given these results, these probes can now be utilized in further investigations of the mechanisms of SPR function, including receptor localization, internalization and recycling.