[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Structure-activity studies for the adipokinetic hormone receptor of insects were for the first time performed in a cellular expression system. A series of single amino acid replacement analogues for the endogenous adipokinetic hormone of Drosophila melanogaster (pGlu-Leu-Thr-Phe-Ser-Pro-Asp-Trp-NH(2)) were screened for activity with a bioluminescence cellular assay, expressing the G-protein coupled receptor. For this series of peptide analogues, one amino acid of the N-terminal tetrapeptide was successively replaced by alanine, while those of the C-terminal tetrapeptide were successively substituted by glycine; other modifications included the blocked N- and C-termini that were replaced by an acetylated alanine and a hydroxyl group, respectively. The analogue series was tested on the AKH receptors of two dipteran species, D. melanogaster and Anopheles gambiae. The blocked termini of the AKH peptide probably play a minor role in receptor interaction and activation, but are considered functionally important elements to protect the peptide against exopeptidases. In contrast, the amino acids at positions 2, 3, 4 and 5 from the N-terminus all seem to be crucial for receptor activation. This can be explained by the potential presence of a β-strand in this part of the peptide that interacts with the receptor. The inferred β-strand is probably followed by a β-turn in which the amino acids at positions 5-8 are involved. In this β-turn, the residues at positions 6 and 8 seem to be essential, as their substitutions induce only a very low degree of receptor activation. Replacement of Asp(7), by contrast, does not influence receptor activation at all. This implies that its side chain is folded inside the β-turn so that no interaction with the receptor occurs.
General and Comparative Endocrinology 04/2012; 177(3):332-7. · 2.82 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: NLP-12a and b have been identified as cholecystokinin/sulfakinin-like neuropeptides in the free-living nematode Caenorhabditis elegans. They are suggested to play an important role in the regulation of digestive enzyme secretion and fat storage. This study reports on the identification and characterization of an NLP-12-like peptide precursor gene in the rat parasitic nematode Strongyloides ratti. The S. ratti NLP-12 peptides are able to activate both C. elegans CKR-2 receptor isoforms in a dose-dependent way with affinities in the same nanomolar range as the native C. elegans NLP-12 peptides. The C-terminal RPLQFamide sequence motif of the NLP-12 peptides is perfectly conserved between free-living and parasitic nematodes. Based on systemic amino acid replacements the Arg-, Leu- and Phe- residues appear to be critical for high-affinity receptor binding. Finally, a SAR analysis revealed the essential pharmacophore in C. elegans NLP-12b to be the pentapeptide RPLQFamide.