A single-chain derivative of the relaxin hormone is a functionally selective agonist of the G protein-coupled receptor, RXFP1

Mohammed Akhter Hossain, Martina Kocan, Song T. Yao, Simon G. Royce, Vinojini B. Nair, Christopher Siwek, Nitin A. Patil, Ian P. Harrison, K. Johan Rosengren, Stavros Selemidis, Roger J. Summers, John D. Wade, Ross A. D. Bathgate, Chrishan S. Samuel

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64 Citations (Scopus)


Human gene-2 relaxin (H2 relaxin) is a pleiotropic hormone with powerful vasodilatory and anti-fibrotic properties which has led to its clinical evaluation and provisional FDA approval as a treatment for acute heart failure. The diverse effects of H2 relaxin are mediated via its cognate G protein coupled-receptor (GPCR), Relaxin Family Peptide Receptor (RXFP1), leading to stimulation of a combination of cell signalling pathways that includes cyclic adenosine monophosphate (cAMP) and extracellular-signal-regulated kinases (ERK)1/2. However, its complex two-chain (A and B), disulfide-rich insulin-like structure is a limitation to its facile preparation, availability and affordability. Furthermore, its strong activation of cAMP signaling is likely responsible for reported detrimental tumor-promoting actions that may preclude long-Term use of this drug for treating human disease. Here we report the design and synthesis of a H2 relaxin B-chain-only analogue, B7-33, which was shown to bind to RXFP1 and preferentially activate the pERK pathway over cAMP in cells that endogenously expressed RXFP1. Thus, B7-33 represents the first functionally selective agonist of the complex GPCR, RXFP1. Importantly, this small peptide agonist prevented or reversed organ fibrosis and dysfunction in three pre-clinical rodent models of heart or lung disease with similar potency to H2 relaxin. The molecular mechanism behind the strong anti-fibrotic actions of B7-33 involved its activation of RXFP1-Angiotensin II type 2 receptor heterodimers that induced selective downstream signaling of pERK1/2 and the collagen-degrading enzyme, matrix metalloproteinase (MMP)-2. Furthermore, in contrast to H2 relaxin, B7-33 did not promote prostate tumor growth in vivo. Our results represent the first known example of the minimisation of a two-chain cyclic insulin-like peptide to a single-chain linear peptide that retains potent beneficial agonistic effects.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3805-3819
Number of pages15
JournalChemical Science
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2016

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