Scott Cowell

The University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona, United States

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Publications (23)80.66 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: Several bifunctional peptides were synthesized and characterized based on the pentapeptide-derived ligand NP30 (1: Tyr-DAla-Gly-Phe-Gly-Trp-O-[3',5'-Bzl(CF3)2]). Modification and truncation of amino acid residues were performed, and the tripeptide-derived ligand NP66 (11: Dmt-DAla-Trp-NH-[3',5'-(CF3)2-Bzl]) was obtained based on the overlapping pharmacophore concept. The Trp(3) residue of ligand 11 works as a message residue for both opioid and NK1 activities. The significance lies in the observation that the approach of appropriate truncation of peptide sequence could lead to a tripeptide-derived chimeric ligand with effective binding and functional activities for both mu and delta opioid and NK1 receptors with agonist activities at mu and delta opioid and antagonist activity at NK1 receptors, respectively. Copyright © 2015 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
    No preview · Article · Jun 2015 · Bioorganic & medicinal chemistry letters
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    ABSTRACT: The optimization and truncation of our lead peptide-derived ligand TY005 possessing eight amino-acid residues was performed. Among the synthesized derivatives, NP30 (Tyr(1)-DAla(2)-Gly(3)-Phe(4)-Gly(5)-Trp(6)-O-[3',5'-Bzl(CF3)2]) showed balanced and potent opioid agonist as well as substance P antagonist activities in isolated tissue-based assays, together with significant antinociceptive and antiallodynic activities in vivo.
    No preview · Article · Jul 2013 · Bioorganic & medicinal chemistry letters
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    ABSTRACT: An SAR study on the Dmt-substituted enkephalin-like tetrapeptide with a N-phenyl-N-piperidin-4-ylpropionamide moiety at the C-terminal was performed and has resulted in highly potent ligands at μ and δ opioid receptors. In general, ligands with the substitution of D-Nle(2) and halogenation of the aromatic ring of Phe(4) showed highly increased opioid activities. Ligand 6 with good biological activities in vitro demonstrated potent in vivo antihyperalgesic and antiallodynic effects in the tail-flick assay.
    Full-text · Article · Dec 2010 · Journal of Medicinal Chemistry
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    ABSTRACT: AimsDue to their anisotropic properties and other factors, it has been difficult to determine the conformational and dynamic properties of integral membrane proteins such as G-protein coupled receptors (GPCRs), growth factor receptors, ion channels, etc. in response to ligands and subsequent signaling. Herein a novel methodology is presented that allows such studies to be performed while maintaining the receptors in a membrane environment.Main methodPlasmon waveguide resonance (PWR) spectroscopy is a relatively new biophysical method which allows one to directly observe structural and dynamic changes which occur on interaction of GPCRs (and other integral membrane proteins) with ligands and signaling molecules. The delta opioid receptor (DOR) and its ligands serve as an excellent model system to illustrate the new insights into GPCR signaling that can be obtained by this method.Key findingsAmong our key findings are: 1) it is possible to obtain the following information directly and without any need for labels (radioactive, fluorescent, etc.): binding affinities, and the ability to distinguish between agonists, antagonists, inverse agonist, and partial agonists without a need for second messenger analysis; 2) it is possible to determine directly, again without a need for labels, G-protein binding to variously occupied or unoccupied DORs, and to determine which α-subtype is involved in allowing structurally different agonist ligands to have differential effects; 3) GTPγS binding can be examined directly; and 4) binding of the DOR with different ligands leads to differential segregation of the ligand-receptor complex into lipid rafts.SignificanceThe implications of these discoveries suggest a need to modify our current views of GPCR-ligand interactions and signaling.
    No preview · Article · Apr 2010 · Life sciences
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    ABSTRACT: 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 mu and delta 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 delta opioid receptor.
    Full-text · Article · Feb 2006 · The AAPS Journal
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    ABSTRACT: 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 (D(1) = 2.0(+/-1.2) x 10(-7) and D(2) = 1.2(+/-0.5) x 10(-6) cm(2)/s) and also the largest electrophoretic mobility for the transmembrane protein (3 x 10(-8) cm(2)/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.
    Preview · Article · Nov 2005 · Langmuir
  • S M Cowell · YS Lee · J P Cain · V J Hruby
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    ABSTRACT: Ligand binding and concomitant changes in receptor structure provide the means to target signal transduction pathways. With appropriate refinement of the ligand's interaction with the "receptor," one in theory could produce ligands that have greater therapeutic benefits. This review will discuss how, when these ligands are amino acids and peptides, the introduction of appropriate conformational constraints provides a powerful strategy for improved drug design. This review will discuss how various constraints on amino acids can provide a powerful tool for ligand design, determination of the three dimensional pharmacophore and new insights into receptor systems and information transduction. Through the use of constrained ligands, new information regarding their interaction with their "receptor" systems, and further refinement of the use of constraints, scientists can produce more beneficial drugs for mankind.
    No preview · Article · Dec 2004 · Current Medicinal Chemistry

  • No preview · Conference Paper · Sep 2004
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    ABSTRACT: Pyrene possesses unique spectroscopic properties such as a high quantum yield, a long half-life in the excited state, and the ability to form excimers when in proximity to each other in the excited state. These properties allow pyrenylalanine, which is a pyrene moiety incorporated into an amino acid, to be used as a fluorescent probe in peptides and proteins. The common route for the synthesis of pyrenylalanine involves 5 steps, with subsequent separation of the two isomers by recrystallization. This paper reports a novel 3-step asymmetric synthesis of pyrenylalanine with high enantioselectivity, good yields, and facile isomer purification. After synthesis, pyrenylalanine was incorporated into a series of opioid, CCK, and melanotropin peptide ligands in order to study the effects of aromaticity, lipophilicity, and steric properties on their potency and efficacy at their corresponding biological receptors. The change in binding and efficacy of the labeled ligands as compared to the unlabeled ligands demonstrates the possible role of lipophilicity/aromaticity in the binding and signal transduction of the ligand-receptor interaction.
    No preview · Article · Jun 2004 · Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications
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    ABSTRACT: Understanding structure-function relationships and mechanisms of signal transduction in G-protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) is becoming increasingly important, both as a fundamental problem in membrane biology and as a consequence of their central role as pharmacological targets. Their integral membrane nature and rather low natural abundance present many challenging problems. Using a recently developed technique, plasmon-waveguide resonance (PWR) spectroscopy, we investigated the structural changes accompanying the binding of ligands to the human delta-opioid receptor (hDOR) immobilized in a solid-supported lipid bilayer. This highly sensitive technique can directly monitor changes in mass density, conformation, and orientation occurring in such thin proteolipid films. Without requiring labeling protocols, PWR allows the direct determination of binding constants in a system very close to the receptor's natural environment. In the present study, conformational changes of a proteolipid membrane containing the hDOR were investigated upon binding of a variety of peptide and nonpeptide agonists, partial agonists, antagonists, and inverse agonists. Distinctly different structural states of the membrane were observed upon binding of each of these classes of ligands, reflecting different receptor conformational states, and the formation of each state was characterized by different kinetic properties. Binding constants, obtained by quantifying the extent of conformational change as a function of the amount of ligand bound, were in good agreement with published values determined by radiolabeling methods. The results provide new insights into ligand-induced GPCR functioning and illustrate a powerful new protocol for drug development.
    Full-text · Article · Jun 2004 · Molecular Pharmacology
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    ABSTRACT: Plasmon-waveguide resonance (PWR) spectroscopy provides a highly sensitive method for characterizing the kinetics, affinities and conformational changes involved in ligand binding to G-protein coupled receptors, without the need for radioactive or other labeling strategies. In the case of the cloned delta-opioid receptor from human brain incorporated into a lipid bilayer, we have shown that affinities determined in this way are consistent with those measured by standard binding procedures using membranes or whole cells containing the receptors, and that the spectral and kinetic properties of the binding processes allow facile distinction between agonist, inverse agonist, and antagonist ligands. We have also shown by direct measurements that G-protein binding affinities and the ability to undergo GTP/GDP exchange are dependent upon the type of ligand pre-bound to the receptor. PWR spectroscopy thus provides a powerful new approach to investigating signal transduction in biological membrane systems.
    No preview · Article · Dec 2003 · Life Sciences
  • Xuyuan Gu · Scott Cowell · Jinfa Ying · Xuejun Tang · Victor J. Hruby
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    ABSTRACT: (2S,3S)- and (2R,3R)-2-amino-3-phenyl-5-hexenoic acids have been synthesized in large scale by using Ni(II)-complexes as a template. The amino acids were used in the synthesis of [4,3,0]-bicyclic β-turn mimetics by a convergent methodology. The unique advantage of this strategy is the convenience of introducing side chain groups with predetermined chiralities on both the five- and six-membered heterocyclic rings.
    No preview · Article · Jul 2003 · Tetrahedron Letters
  • Scott M Cowell · Xuyuan Gu · Josef Vagner · Victor J Hruby
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    ABSTRACT: For Abstract see ChemInform Abstract in Full Text.
    No preview · Article · Feb 2003 · Methods in Enzymology
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    ABSTRACT: Down-regulation of the delta-opioid receptor contributes to the development of tolerance to delta-opioid receptor agonists. The involvement of the carboxy terminus of the mouse delta-opioid receptor in peptide agonist-mediated down-regulation has been established. In the present study, we examined the down-regulation of the truncated human delta-opioid receptor by structurally distinct delta-opioid receptor agonists. Chinese hamster ovary (CHO) cells, expressing the full-length or truncated epitope-tagged human delta-opioid receptors were incubated with various delta-opioid receptor agonists (100 nM, 24 h), and membrane receptor levels were determined by [(3)H]naltrindole saturation binding. Each delta-opioid receptor agonist tested down-regulated the full-length receptor. Truncation of the carboxy terminus abolished down-regulation by all delta-opioid receptor agonists, except SNC80 ((+)-4-[(alphaR)-alpha-((2S,5R)-4-allyl-2,5-dimethyl-1-piperazinyl)-3-methoxybenzyl]N,N-diethylbenzamide). In addition, truncation of the C-terminus completely attenuated [D-Pen(2)-D-Pen(5)]enkephalin (DPDPE), but not SNC80-mediated [32P] incorporation into the protein immunoreactive with an anti-epitope-tagged antibody. These findings suggest that SNC80-mediated phosphorylation and down-regulation of the human delta-opioid receptor involves other receptor domains in addition to the carboxy terminus. Pertussis toxin treatment did not block SNC80-mediated down-regulation of the truncated Et-hDOR, indicating that the down-regulation is independent of G(i/o) protein activation and subsequent downstream signaling.
    Full-text · Article · Feb 2003 · European Journal of Pharmacology
  • Z Salamon · V J Hruby · G Tollin · S Cowell
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    ABSTRACT: Structural changes induced by the binding of agonists, antagonists and inverse agonists to the cloned delta-opioid receptor from human brain immobilized in a solid-supported lipid bilayer were monitored using plasmon-waveguide resonance (PWR) spectroscopy. Agonist (e.g. deltorphin II) binding causes an increase in membrane thickness because of receptor elongation, a mass density increase due to an influx of lipid molecules into the bilayer, and an increase in refractive index anisotropy due to transmembrane helix and fatty acyl chain ordering. In contrast, antagonist (e.g. TIPPpsi) binding produces no measurable change in either membrane thickness or mass density, and a significantly larger increase in refractive index anisotropy, the latter thought to be due to a greater extent of helix and acyl chain ordering within the membrane interior. These results are closely similar to those reported earlier for another agonist (DPDPE) and antagonist (naltrindol) [Salamon et al. (2000) Biophys. J.79, 2463-2474]. In addition, we now find that an inverse agonist (TMT-Tic) produces membrane thickness, mass density and refractive index anisotropy increases which are similar to, but considerably smaller than, those generated by agonists. Thus, a third conformational state is produced by this ligand, different from those formed by agonists and antagonists. These results shed new light on the mechanisms of ligand-induced G-protein-coupled receptor functioning. The potential utilization of this new biophysical method to examine structural changes both parallel and perpendicular to the membrane normal for GPCRs is emphasized.
    No preview · Article · Jan 2003 · European Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology
  • Xuyuan Gu · Xuejun Tang · Scott Cowell · Jinfa Ying · Victor J. Hruby
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    ABSTRACT: A novel strategy toward the syntheses of [6,5]-bicyclic β-turn dipeptides has been developed starting from δ,ε-unsaturated amino acids. This is the first example showing that this scaffold can be synthesized from a terminal alkene using a trifluoroacetyl protected amino acid. Both enantiomers of the δ,ε-unsaturated amino acid were synthesized by a modified method using Ni(II)-complexes.
    No preview · Article · Sep 2002 · Tetrahedron Letters
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    ABSTRACT: This chapter describes the approaches to the design and synthesis of antagonists in detail and discusses the way by which the same principles can be used to synthesize an inverse agonist. While it is theoretically possible to design a drug that binds perfectly to the receptor, it may be difficult to, at same time, design a molecule with perfect biodistribution, diffusion, pharmacokinetics, and others. In any case, G protein-coupled receptor (GPCR) antagonist ligands will continue to play a major role in the evaluation of these receptors and as drugs. As science begins to understand the role of second messengers in the body, antagonists will be used to help balance the effects of the second messengers on some receptors to correct dysfunctions of mind and body. When ligands interact with the extracellular portion of the receptor, a binding process occurs and there is a conformational change in the receptor, which, in the case of the agonist, causes the intracellular portion to interact with G proteins. G protein components then trigger various second messengers leading to signal transduction.
    No preview · Article · Feb 2002 · Methods in Enzymology
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    ABSTRACT: Structural changes accompanying the binding of ligands to the cloned human delta-opioid receptor immobilized in a solid-supported lipid bilayer have been investigated using coupled plasmon-waveguide resonance spectroscopy. This highly sensitive technique directly monitors mass density, conformation, and molecular orientation changes occurring in anisotropic thin films and allows direct determination of binding constants. Although both agonist binding and antagonist binding to the receptor cause increases in molecular ordering within the proteolipid membrane, only agonist binding induces an increase in thickness and molecular packing density of the membrane. This is a consequence of mass movements perpendicular to the plane of the bilayer occurring within the lipid and receptor components. These results are consistent with models of receptor function that involve changes in the orientation of transmembrane helices.
    Full-text · Article · Dec 2000 · Biophysical Journal
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    ABSTRACT: We examined the contribution of the human delta-opioid receptor carboxyl terminal tail to (+)-4-[(alphaR)-alpha-((2S,5R)-4-allyl-2, 5-dimethyl-1-piperazinyl)-3-methoxybenzyl]-N,N-diethylbenzamide (SNC80)- and cyclic[D-Pen(2),D-Pen(5)]enkephalin (DPDPE)-mediated receptor down-regulation. Both SNC80 and DPDPE mediated down-regulation of an epitope tagged human delta-opioid receptor. Truncation of the human delta-opioid receptor after Gly(338) blocked DPDPE-mediated down-regulation. However, SNC80 mediated significant down-regulation of the truncated receptor. These findings suggest that SNC80-mediated down-regulation involves receptor domains in addition to the carboxyl terminal tail.
    No preview · Article · Feb 2000 · European Journal of Pharmacology
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    ABSTRACT: We examined the contribution of the human δ-opioid receptor carboxyl terminal tail to (+)-4-[(αR)-α-((2S,5R)-4-allyl-2,5-dimethyl-1-piperazinyl)-3-methoxybenzyl]-N,N-diethylbenzamide (SNC80)- and cyclic[d-Pen2,d-Pen5]enkephalin (DPDPE)-mediated receptor down-regulation. Both SNC80 and DPDPE mediated down-regulation of an epitope tagged human δ-opioid receptor. Truncation of the human δ-opioid receptor after Gly338 blocked DPDPE-mediated down-regulation. However, SNC80 mediated significant down-regulation of the truncated receptor. These findings suggest that SNC80-mediated down-regulation involves receptor domains in addition to the carboxyl terminal tail.
    No preview · Article · Jan 2000 · European Journal of Pharmacology

Publication Stats

547 Citations
80.66 Total Impact Points


  • 1999-2013
    • The University of Arizona
      • • Department of Pharmacology
      • • Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry (College of Science)
      Tucson, Arizona, United States
  • 2003
    • University of Northern Iowa
      • Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry
      سدار فالز، آیووا, Iowa, United States