[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The recently identified mas-related-gene (MRG) family of receptors, located primarily in sensory neurons of the dorsal root ganglion, has been implicated in the perception of pain. Thus, antagonists of this class of receptors have been postulated to be useful analgesics. Toward this end, we developed a cell-based beta-lactamase (BLA) reporter gene assay to identify small molecule antagonists of the human MRG-X1 receptor from a library of compounds. Single-cell clones expressing functional receptors were selected using the BLA reporter gene technology. The EC50 for the MRG agonist peptide, BAM15, appeared to be comparable between the BLA assay and the intracellular Ca2+ transient assays in these cells. Ultra high-throughput screening of approximately 1 million compounds in a 1.8-microl cell-based BLA reporter gene assay was conducted in a 3456-well plate format. Compounds exhibiting potential antagonist profile in the BLA assay were confirmed in the second messenger Ca2+ transient assay. A cell-based receptor trafficking assay was used to further validate the mechanism of action of these compounds. Several classes of compounds, particularly the 2,3-disubstituted azabicyclo-octanes, appear to be relatively potent antagonists at the human MRG-X1 receptors, as confirmed by the receptor trafficking assay and radioligand binding studies. Furthermore, the structure-activity relationship reveals that within this class of compounds, the diphenylmethyl moiety is constant at the 2-substituent, whereas the 3-substituent is directly correlated with the antagonist activity of the compound.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Cell-based beta-lactamase reporter gene assays designed to measure the functional responses of G-protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) were miniaturized to less than 2 microL total assay volume in a 3456-well microplate. Studies were done to evaluate both receptor agonists and antagonists. The pharmacology of agonists and antagonists for target GPCRs originally developed in a 96-well format was recapitulated in a 3456-well microplate format without compromising data quality or EC(50)/IC(50) precision. These assays were employed in high-throughput screening campaigns, allowing the testing of more than 150,000 compounds in 8 h. The instrumentation used and practical aspects of the assay development are discussed.