Engineering of chimeric peptides as antagonists for the G protein-coupled receptor, RXFP4

March 24, 2020


Engineering of chimeric peptides as antagonists for the G protein-coupled receptor, RXFP4


Praveen Praveen, Ross A. D. Bathgate, Mohammed Akhter Hossain




Scientific Reports


Insulin-like peptide 5 (INSL5) is a very important pharma target for treating human conditions such as anorexia and diabetes. However, INSL5 with two chains and three disulfide bridges is an extremely difficult peptide to assemble by chemical or recombinant means. In a recent study, we were able to engineer a simplified INSL5 analogue 13 which is a relaxin family peptide receptor 4 (RXFP4)-specific agonist. To date, however, no RXFP4-specific antagonist (peptide or small molecule) has been reported in the literature. The focus of this study was to utilize the non-specific RXFP3/RXFP4 antagonist ΔR3/I5 as a template to rationally design an RXFP4 specific antagonist. Unexpectedly, we demonstrated that ΔR3/I5 exhibited partial agonism at RXFP4 when expressed in CHO cells which is associated with only partial antagonism of INSL5 analogue activation. In an attempt to improve RXFP4 specificity and antagonist activity we designed and chemically synthesized a series of analogues of ΔR3/I5. While all the chimeric analogues still demonstrated partial agonism at RXFP4, one peptide (Analogue 17) exhibited significantly improved RXFP4 specificity. Importantly, analogue 17 has a simplified structure which is more amenable to chemical synthesis. Therefore, analogue 17 is an ideal template for further development into a specific high affinity RXFP4 antagonist which will be an important tool to probe the physiological role of RXFP4/INSL5 axis.




Circular dichroism, Secondary structure, Chemical stability, Biochemistry