Zhiwei Wang

University of California, Irvine, Irvine, California, United States

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Publications (34)203.14 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: Scopolia tangutica Maxim (S. Tangutica) extracts have been traditionally used as antispasmodic, sedative, and analgesic agents in Tibet and in the Qinghai province of China. Their active compositions are however poorly understood. We have recently isolated five new hydroxycinnamic acid (HCA) amides along with two known HCA amides, one cinnamic acid amide from these extracts. In this study, we evaluate their abilities to inhibit carbacol-induced activity of M1 muscarinic acetylcholine receptor along with the crude extracts. Chinese hamster ovary cells stably expressing the recombinant human M1 receptor (CHO-M1 cells) were employed to evaluate the anticholinergic potentials. Intracellular Ca(2+) changes were monitored using the FLIPR system. Five HCA amides as well as the crude S. Tangutica extract displayed dose-dependent inhibitory effects against M1 receptor. These findings demonstrate that HCA amides are part of the M1 receptor-inhibiting principles of S. tangutica. Since blockade of parasympathetic nerve impulse transmission through the inhibition of the M1 receptor lessens smooth muscle spasms, our findings provided a molecular explanation for the traditional use of S. Tangutica against spasm.
    No preview · Article · Nov 2015 · Fitoterapia
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    ABSTRACT: Melanin-concentrating Hormone (MCH) is a 19 amino acid cyclic neuropeptide that acts in rodents via the MCH receptor 1 (MCHR1) to regulate a wide variety of physiological functions. MCH is produced by a distinct population of neurons located in the lateral hypothalamus (LH) and zona incerta (ZI) but MCHR1 mRNA is widely expressed throughout the brain. The physiological responses and behaviors regulated by the MCH system have been investigated, but less is known about how MCH neurons are regulated. The effects of most classical neurotransmitters on MCH neurons have been studied, but those of neuropeptides are poorly understood. In order to gain insight into how neuropeptides regulate the MCH system, we investigated which neuropeptide receptors are expressed by MCH neurons using double in situ hybridization. In all, twenty receptors, selected based upon either a suspected interaction with the MCH system or demonstrated high expression levels in the LH and ZI, were tested to determine whether they are expressed by MCH neurons. Overall, eleven neuropeptide receptors were found to exhibit significant colocalization with MCH neurons: Nociceptin / Orphanin FQ Opioid receptor (NOP), MCHR1, both Orexin receptors (ORX), Somatostatin receptor 1 and 2 (SSTR1, SSTR2), the Kisspeptin receotor (KissR1), Neurotensin receptor 1 (NTSR1), Neuropeptide S receptor (NPSR), Cholecystokinin receptor A (CCKAR) and the κ-opioid receptor (KOR). Of these receptors, six have never before been linked to the MCH system. Surprisingly, several receptors thought to regulate MCH neurons displayed minimal colocalization with MCH, suggesting that they may not directly regulate the MCH system. J. Comp. Neurol., 2014. © 2014 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
    No preview · Article · Dec 2014 · The Journal of Comparative Neurology

  • No preview · Dataset · Sep 2014
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    ABSTRACT: Four new hydroxycinnamic acid amides, scotanamines A-D (1-4), and seven known alkaloids, including N (1),N (10)-di-dihydrocaffeoylspermidine (5), scopolamine (6), anisodamine (7), hyoscyamine (8), anisodine (9), caffeoylputrescine (10), and N (1)-caffeoyl-N (3)-dihydrocaffeoylspermidine (11), were obtained from the roots of Scopolia tangutica. The present study represents the first recognition of hydroxycinnamic acid amides containing putrescine or spermidine in S. tangutica. Compound 1, in particular, contains a moiety resulting from the condensation of nortropinone and putrescine. Compound 2 exhibited moderate agonist activity at the µ-opioid receptor (EC50 = 7.3 µM). Compound 2 was tested in vivo and induced analgesia in mice. The analgesic effect was recorded using the tail-flick assay and was reversed by naloxone.
    No preview · Article · Aug 2014 · Planta Medica
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    ABSTRACT: Ethnopharmacological relevance: The need for an efficacious analgesic without unwanted side effects is urgent. κ-opioid receptor agonists are known to exhibit potent analgesic effects and elicited fewer side effects than other opioid agonists. Thus in this study we chose the κ-opioid receptor as the target to identify the active components from traditional Chinese medicines (TCMs). Materials and methods: The κ-opioid receptor was expressed in human embryonic kidney-293 T cells (HEK293T). Fluorometric Imaging Plate Reader (FLIPR) assay was used for the determination of Ca(2+) response when κ-opioid receptor was activated. A novel 2D separation system employing C18HCE as the first dimension and a strong cation exchange column (SCX) as the second dimension was conducted for the purification of the active principles. Results: With the aid of HPLC-based activity profiling, activities could be linked to two peaks from Corydalis yanhusuo W. T. Wang (C. yanhusuo) extract. Two N-methyltetrahydroprotoberberines with κ-opioid receptor agonist activities were isolated for the first time from C. yanhusuo by using 2D-LC. Conclusions: Our study suggests that N-methyltetrahydroprotoberberines may serve as a new scaffold for κ-opioid receptor ligands. The strategy that we adopted can be applied to other naturally-occurring active alkaloids acting at different receptors.
    No preview · Article · Aug 2014 · Journal of Ethnopharmacology
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    ABSTRACT: Melanin-concentrating hormone (MCH) producing neurons are known to regulate a wide variety of physiological functions such as feeding, metabolism, anxiety and depression, and reward. Recent studies have revealed that MCH neurons receive projections from several wake promoting brain regions and are integral to the regulation of REM sleep. Here, we provide evidence in both rats and mice that MCH neurons express histamine-3 receptors (H3R), but not histamine-1 (H1R) or histamine-2 (H2R) receptors. Electrophysiological recordings in brain slices from a novel line of transgenic mice that specifically express the reporter ZsGreen in MCH neurons show that histamine strongly inhibits MCH neurons, an effect which is TTX-insensitive, and blocked by intracellular presence of GDP-β-S. A specific H3R agonist, α-methylhistamine, mimicks the inhibitory effects of histamine, and a specific neutral H3R antagonist, VUF 5681, blocks this effect. Tertiapin Q (TPQ), a G-dependent inwardly rectifying potassium (GIRK) channel inhibitor, abolishes histaminergic inhibition of MCH neurons. These results indicate that histamine directly inhibits MCH neurons through H3R by activating GIRK channels and suggest that that inhibition of the MCH system by wake-active histaminergic neurons may be responsible for silencing MCH neurons during wakefulness and thus may be directly involved in the regulation of sleep and arousal.
    Full-text · Article · Mar 2014 · The Journal of Physiology
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    ABSTRACT: Current pain management is limited, in particular, with regard to chronic pain. In an attempt to discover novel analgesics, we combined the approach developed to characterize traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), as part of the "herbalome" project, with the reverse pharmacology approach aimed at discovering new endogenous transmitters and hormones. In a plant used for centuries for its analgesic properties, we identify a compound, dehydrocorybulbine (DHCB), that is effective at alleviating thermally induced acute pain. We synthesize DHCB and show that it displays moderate dopamine receptor antagonist activities. By using selective pharmacological compounds and dopamine receptor knockout (KO) mice, we show that DHCB antinociceptive effect is primarily due to its interaction with D2 receptors, at least at low doses. We further show that DHCB is effective against inflammatory pain and injury-induced neuropathic pain and furthermore causes no antinociceptive tolerance. Our study casts DHCB as a different type of analgesic compound and as a promising lead in pain management.
    Full-text · Article · Dec 2013 · Current biology: CB
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    ABSTRACT: Bombesin receptor subtype-3 (BRS-3) is an orphan G protein-coupled receptor (GPCR) involved in the regulation of energy homeostasis. Mice deficient in BRS-3 develop late-onset mild obesity with metabolic defects, while synthetic agonists activating BRS-3 show anti-obesity profiles by inhibiting food intake and increasing metabolic rate in rodent models. The molecular mechanisms and the neural circuits responsible for these effects, however, remain elusive and demand better characterization. We report here a comprehensive mapping of BRS-3 mRNA in the rat and mouse brain through in situ hybridization. Furthermore, to investigate the neurochemical characteristics of the BRS-3-expressing neurons, double in situ hybridization was performed to determine whether BRS-3 co-localizes with other neurotransmitters or neuropeptides. Many, but not all, of the BRS-3-expressing neurons were found to be glutamatergic, while few were found to be cholinergic or GABAergic. BRS-3-containing neurons do not express some of the well-characterized neuropeptides, such as neuropeptide Y (NPY), proopiomelanocortin (POMC), orexin/hypocretin, melanin-concentrating hormone (MCH), thyrotropin-releasing hormone (TRH), gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) and kisspeptin. Interestingly, BRS-3 mRNA was found to partially co-localize with corticotropin-releasing factor (CRF) and growth hormone-releasing hormone (GHRH), suggesting novel interactions of BRS-3 with stress and growth-related endocrine systems. Our study provides important information for evaluating BRS-3 as a potential therapeutic target for the treatment of obesity. J. Comp. Neurol., 2012. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
    No preview · Article · Apr 2013 · The Journal of Comparative Neurology
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    ABSTRACT: Novel small molecule antagonists of NPBWR1 (GPR7) are herein reported. A high-throughput screening (HTS) of the Molecular Libraries-Small Molecule Repository library identified 5-chloro-4-(4-methoxyphenoxy)-2-(p-tolyl)pyridazin-3(2H)-one as a NPBWR1 hit antagonist with micromolar activity. Design, synthesis and structure-activity relationships study of the HTS-derived hit led to the identification of 5-chloro-2-(3,5-dimethylphenyl)-4-(4-methoxyphenoxy)pyridazin-3(2H)-one lead molecule with submicromolar antagonist activity at the target receptor and high selectivity against a panel of therapeutically relevant off-target proteins. This lead molecule may provide a pharmacological tool to clarify the molecular basis of the in vivo physiological function and therapeutic utility of NPBWR1 in diverse disease areas including inflammatory pain and eating disorders.
    No preview · Article · Oct 2012 · Bioorganic & medicinal chemistry letters
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    ABSTRACT: Melanin-concentrating hormone (MCH) is a peptide produced in the hypothalamus and the zona incerta that acts on one receptor, MCH receptor 1 (MCH1R), in rodents. The MCH system has been implicated in the regulation of several centrally directed physiological responses, including the hypothalamus-pituitary-thyroid axis. Yet a possible direct effect of the MCH system on thyroid function has not been explored in detail. We now show that MCH1R mRNA is expressed in thyroid follicular cells and that mice lacking MCH1R [MCH1R-knockout (KO)] exhibit reduced circulating iodothyronine (T(4), free T(4), T(3), and rT(3)) levels and high TRH and TSH when compared with wild-type (WT) mice. Because the TSH of MCH1R-KO mice displays a normal bioactivity, we hypothesize that their hypothyroidism may be caused by defective thyroid function. Yet expression levels of the genes important for thyroid hormones synthesis or secretion are not different between the MCH1R-KO and WT mice. However, the average thyroid follicle size of the MCH1R-KO mice is larger than that of WT mice and contained more free and total T(4) and T(3) than the WT glands, suggesting that they are sequestered in the glands. Indeed, when challenged with TSH, the thyroids of MCH1R-KO mice secrete lower amounts of T(4). Similarly, secretion of iodothyronines in the plasma upon (125)I administration is significantly reduced in MCH1R-KO mice. Therefore, the absence of MCH1R affects thyroid function by disrupting thyroid hormone secretion. To our knowledge, this study is the first to link the activity of the MCH system to the thyroid function.
    No preview · Article · Sep 2012 · Endocrinology
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    ABSTRACT: G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) are major regulators of intercellular interactions. They initiate these actions by being activated by a wide variety of natural ligands. Historically, ligands were discovered first, but the advent of molecular biology reversed this trend. Most GPCRs are identified on the basis of their DNA sequences and thus are initially unmatched to known natural ligands. They are termed orphan GPCRs. Discovering their ligands-i.e., "deorphanizing" the GPCRs-gave birth to the field of reverse pharmacology. This review discusses the present status of GPCR deorphanization, presents a few examples of successes and surprises, and highlights difficulties encountered in these efforts. Expected final online publication date for the Annual Review of Pharmacology and Toxicology Volume 53 is January 06, 2013. Please see http://www.annualreviews.org/catalog/pubdates.aspx for revised estimates.
    No preview · Article · Sep 2012 · Annual Review of Pharmacology
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    ABSTRACT: By screening extracts of venom from the Asian scorpion Buthus martensii Karsch (BmK) for their abilities to activate opioid receptors, we have identified BmK-YA, an amidated peptide containing an enkephalin-like sequence. BmK-YA is encoded by a precursor that displays a signal sequence and contains four copies of BmK-YA sequences and four of His(4)-BmK-YA, all flanked by single amino acid residues. BmK-YA and His(4)-BmK-YA are amidated and thus fulfill the characteristics expected of bioactive peptides. BmK-YA can activate mammalian opioid receptors with selectivity for the δ subtype while His(4)-BmK-YA is inactive at opioid receptors. The discovery of BmK-YA suggests that scorpion venom may represent a novel source of bioactive molecules targeting G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) and reveal additional insights on the evolution of the opioid precursors.
    Preview · Article · Jul 2012 · PLoS ONE
  • Yan Zhang · Zhiwei Wang · D Phillip Cox · Olivier Civelli
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    ABSTRACT: As a first step in our search for new opiates, we have established cellular assays to monitor opioid receptor activation and study the activities of a set of morphine derivatives. Intracellular calcium changes were monitored in human embryonic kidney-293 T cells expressing individual opioid receptors upon cotransfection with a chimeric G protein. This assay was validated by comparing the potencies of the endogenous peptides to reported values. All of the opiates were found to interact with the three opioid receptor subtypes but with a range of differences in efficacies and potencies. Most of the opiates preferentially acted at the μ receptor. None of the opiates showed a preference for the δ receptor. Only oripavine and its precursor thebaine showed a preference for the κ over the μ receptor. The results indicate that the opiates with a C-3 hydroxyl group or C-6 ketone group but in the presence of a 7, 8-single bond exhibit higher activity. It is noteworthy that the 6-O-methyl group seems to improve the selectivity for κ receptor. This is the first comparative and comprehensive report on the activation of the three different opioid receptors by a set of morphine derivatives in a well-defined assay system. These data can serve as a basis for the characterization of novel opiates.
    No preview · Article · Feb 2012 · Neurochemical Research
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    ABSTRACT: Neuropeptides control a wide spectrum of physiological functions. They are central to our understanding of brain functions. They exert their actions by interacting with specific G protein-coupled receptors. We however have not found all the neuropeptides that exist in organisms. The search for novel neuropeptides is thus of great interest as it will lead to a better understanding of brain function and disorders. In this review, we will discuss the historical as well as the current approaches to neuropeptide discovery, with a particular emphasis on the orphan GPCR-based strategies. We will also discuss two novel peptides, neuropeptide S and neuromedin S, as examples of the impact of neuropeptide discovery on our understanding of brain functions. Finally, the challenges facing neuropeptide discovery will be discussed.
    No preview · Article · Jul 2011 · Current pharmaceutical design
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    ABSTRACT: Bombesin receptor subtype-3 (BRS-3) is an orphan G protein-coupled receptor in the bombesin receptor family that still awaits identification of its natural ligand. BRS-3 deficient mice develop a mild late-onset obesity with metabolic defects, implicating BRS-3 plays a role in feeding and metabolism. We describe here the pharmacological characterization of a synthetic compound, 16a, which serves as a potent agonist for BRS-3. This compound is selective for BRS-3 as it does not activate neuromedin B or gastrin-releasing peptide receptors, two most closely related bombesin receptors, as well as a series of other GPCRs. We assessed the receptor trafficking of BRS-3 and found that compound 16a promoted beta-arrestin translocation to the cell membrane. Neither central nor peripheral administration of compound 16a affects locomotor activity in mice. Therefore compound 16a is a potential tool to study the function of the BRS-3 system in vitro and possibly in vivo.
    Full-text · Article · Aug 2009 · Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications
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    ABSTRACT: Melanin-concentrating hormone (MCH) is a neurohypophysial hormone and induces melanin aggregation in the skin in teleosts. MCH also has multiple roles in the central regulation of food intake in teleosts and mammals. MCH receptors (MCH-R) are among type I G-protein-coupled receptors. Here, we cloned two MCH receptors from goldfish, Carassius auratus. The amino acid sequence of goldfish MCH-R1 had 57-88% homology with fish MCH-R1 and 49-50% homology with mammalian MCH-R1, while the amino acid sequence of goldfish MCH-R2 had 72-92% homology with fish MCH-R2 and 32% homology with human MCH-R2. Phylogenetic analysis showed that these two MCH-Rs are orthologous to the respective mammalian MCH-Rs. The common amino acid residues for ligand binding, signal transduction, and receptor conformation were well conserved in these receptors, although some intracellular basic-amino-acid-rich domains, which have been shown to exist in human MCH-R1 and MCH-R2, were absent in goldfish MCH-R2. When stably expressed in HEK293 cells, both goldfish MCH-R1 and MCH-R2 displayed a strong, dose-dependent, transient elevation of intracellular calcium in response to salmon MCH (EC(50)=0.8nM and 31.8nM, respectively). In contrast to goldfish MCH-R2, goldfish MCH-R1 signaling is not sensitive to pertussis toxin, suggesting an exclusive Galphaq coupling of goldfish MCH-R1 in the mammalian cell-based assay. Reverse transcriptase PCR revealed that both MCH-R1 and MCH-R2 mRNA are distributed in various tissues in goldfish. The various tissues including the brain and skin express both MCH-R1 and MCH-R2. These results suggest that these functional receptors mediate multiple effects of MCH in goldfish.
    No preview · Article · May 2009 · Peptides
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    ABSTRACT: Melanin-concentrating hormone (MCH) is a neuropeptide that exhibits potent orexigenic activity. In rodents, it exerts its actions by interacting with one receptor, MCH1 receptor which is expressed in many parts of the central nervous system (CNS). To study the physiological implications of the MCH system, we need to be able to block it locally and acutely. This necessitates the use of MCH1 receptor antagonists. While MCH1 receptor antagonists have been previously reported, they are mainly not accessible to academic research. We apply here a strategy that leads to the isolation of a high affinity and selective MCH1 receptor antagonist amenable to in vivo analyses without further chemical modifications. This antagonist, TPI 1361-17, was identified through the screening of multiple non-peptide positional scanning synthetic combinatorial libraries (PS-SCL) totaling more than eight hundred thousand compounds in conditions that allow for the identification of only high-affinity compounds. TPI 1361-17 exhibited an IC50 value of 6.1 nM for inhibition of 1 nM MCH-induced Ca2+ mobilization and completely displaced the binding of [125I] MCH to rat MCH1 receptor. TPI 1361-17 was found specific, having no affinity for a variety of other G-protein coupled receptors and channels. TPI 1361-17 was found active in vivo since it blocked MCH-induced food intake by 75%. Our results indicate that TPI 1361-17 is a novel and selective MCH1 receptor antagonist and is an effective tool to study the physiological functions of the MCH system. These results also illustrate the successful application of combinatorial library screening to identify specific surrogate antagonists in an academic setting.
    Full-text · Article · Jan 2009 · European journal of pharmacology
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    ABSTRACT: Two glycoprotein hormone subunits, (glycoprotein hormone alpha2-subunit GPA2) and (glycoprotein hormone beta5-subunit GPB5) have been recently discovered which, when expressed in vitro, heterodimerize to form a new hormone called thyrostimulin. Thyrostimulin activates the thyroid-stimulating hormone receptor (TSHR) and has thyrotropic activity. Immunological studies have indicated that both subunits co-localize in pituitary cells. To explore the function of thyrostimulin in the rat, we have cloned rat GPA2 and GPB5, reconstituted the heterodimers in vitro, and confirmed that rat thyrostimulin activates TSHR with an affinity similar to that of TSH. In situ hybridization of the pituitary showed that while GPA2 is expressed in the anterior lobe, GPB5 is not detected in any of the lobes. A quantitative analysis showed that the co-localization of GPA2 and GPB5 is restricted in the rat to the eye and the testis. We found that GPB5 can be detected in the pituitary by quantitative-PCR, but at extremely low levels, 2000-fold lower than TSH beta-subunit (GPBtsh). Furthermore, the levels of GPB5 remain constant during the estrus cycle, while those of GPA2 vary. Finally, we found that none of the thyrostimulin subunits was induced by TRH in pituitary cell culture. These data point at the thyrostimulin system as being functionally different to the TSH system.
    Full-text · Article · Sep 2006 · Journal of Molecular Endocrinology
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    ABSTRACT: In the rat, the neuropeptide B/neuropeptide W (NPB/NPW) system is composed of two ligands, neuropeptide B (NPB) and neuropeptide W (NPW), and one receptor, GPR7. Although preliminary analyses show roles in feeding, hormone secretion, and analgesia, the lack of a detailed anatomical map impairs our understanding of the NPB/NPW system. We demonstrate in this report the expression patterns of GPR7, NPB, and NPW precursor messenger ribonucleic acid (mRNA) in the rat brain by using in situ hybridization and in situ binding experiments. The amygdala expresses the highest levels of GPR7 mRNA and binding signals. Other nuclei with high levels of expression and binding are the suprachiasmatic and the ventral tuberomamillary nuclei. Moderate levels are seen in the dorsal endopiriform, dorsal tenia tecta, bed nucleus, and the red nucleus. Low levels are in the olfactory bulb, parastrial nucleus, hypothalamus, laterodorsal tegmentum, superior colliculus, locus coeruleus, and the nucleus of the solitary tract. Although the NPB precursor is mostly expressed at low levels in the brain, moderate expression is seen in anterior olfactory nucleus, piriform cortex, median preoptic nucleus, basolateral amygdala, hippocampus, medial tuberal nucleus, substantia nigra, dorsal raphe nucleus, Edinger-Westphal nucleus, and the locus coeruleus. To our surprise, the expression of NPW precursor was not detected. Our study greatly expands the preliminary in situ data previously reported. With this map of the NPB/NPW system in the rat brain, a better understanding of the functional implications of the system in various behavioral paradigms is now possible.
    No preview · Article · Jul 2006 · The Journal of Comparative Neurology
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    ABSTRACT: The mas-like G protein-coupled receptors form a subfamily of G protein-coupled receptors that includes variable member numbers across different species and that have been shown to bind a wide variety of ligands from peptides to amino acid derivatives. While screening a library of peptides against different orphan G protein-coupled receptors, we found that human salusin beta activates the mouse mas-like G protein-coupled receptor, mMrgA1 with an EC(50) of about 300 nM. Salusin beta is a bioactive peptide recently discovered through bioinformatics analysis which stimulates arginine-vasopressin release from rat pituitary and causes rapid and profound hypotension and bradycardia. However, when we further analyzed the generality of the mMrgA1 activation, we found that human salusin beta does not activate corresponding human mas-like G protein-coupled receptors. Our results show that human salusin beta is a surrogate ligand of the mouse MrgA1 and raises a cautionary flag for experiments that analyze the pharmacological profiles of mas-like G protein-coupled receptors from different species.
    No preview · Article · Jul 2006 · European Journal of Pharmacology