Site of action of a pentapeptide agonist at the glucagon-like peptide-1 receptor. Insight into a small molecule agonist-binding pocket

Maoqing Dong, Delia I. Pinon, Laurence J. Miller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


The development of small molecule agonists for class B G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) has been quite challenging. With proof-of-concept that exenatide, the parenterally administered peptide agonist of the glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP1) receptor, is an effective treatment for patients with diabetes mellitus, the development of small molecule agonists could have substantial advantages. We previously reported a lead for small molecule GLP1 receptor agonist development representing the pentapeptide NRTFD. In this work, we have prepared an NRTFD derivative incorporating a photolabile benzoylphenylalanine and used it to define its site of action. This peptide probe was a full agonist with potency similar to NRTFD, which bound specifically and saturably to a single, distinct site within the GLP1 receptor. Peptide mapping using cyanogen bromide and endoproteinase Lys-C cleavage of labeled wild type and M397L mutant receptor constructs identified the site of covalent attachment of NRTFD within the third extracellular loop above the sixth transmembrane segment (TM6). This region is the same as that identified using an analogous photolabile probe based on secretin receptor sequences, and has been shown in mutagenesis studies to be important for natural agonist action of several members of this family. While these observations suggest that small molecule ligands can act at a site bordering the third extracellular loop to activate this class B GPCR, the relationship of this site to the site of action of the amino-terminal end of the natural agonist peptide is unclear.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)638-641
Number of pages4
JournalBioorganic and Medicinal Chemistry Letters
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2012


  • G protein-coupled receptor
  • Glucagon-like peptide-1 receptor
  • Ligand binding
  • Photoaffinity labeling
  • Small molecule ligand

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Medicine
  • Molecular Biology
  • Pharmaceutical Science
  • Drug Discovery
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Organic Chemistry


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