Analogs of insulin-like peptide 3 (INSL3) B-chain are LGR8 antagonists in vitro and in vivo

Mark Pasqualino Del Borgo, Richard A Hughes, Ross Bathgate, Feng Lin, Kazu Kawamura, John D Wade

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Insulin-like peptide 3 (INSL3) is a member of the insulin superfamily that plays an important role in mediating testes descent during fetal development. More recently, it has also been demonstrated to initiate oocyte maturation and suppress male germ cell apoptosis. These actions are mediated via a specific G-protein-coupled receptor, LGR8. Little is known regarding the structure and function relationship of INSL3, although it is believed that the principal receptor binding site resides within its B-chain. We subsequently observed that the linear B-chain alone (INSL3B-(1-31)) bound to LGR8 and was able to antagonise INSL3 stimulated cAMP accumulation in HEK-293T cells expressing LGR8. Sequentially N- and C-terminally shortened linear analogs were prepared by solid phase synthesis and subsequent assay showed that the minimum length required for binding was residues 11-27. It was also observed that increased binding affinity correlated with a corresponding increase in alpha-helical content as measured by circular dichroism spectroscopy. Molecular modeling studies suggested that judicious placement of a conformational constraint within this peptide would increase its alpha-helix content and result in increased structural similarity to the B-chain within native INSL3. Consequently, intramolecularly disulfide-linked analogs of the B-chain showed a potentiation of INSL3 antagonistic activity, as well as exhibiting increased proteolytic stability, as assessed in rat serum in vitro. Administration of one of these peptides into the testes of rats resulted in a substantial decrease in testis weight probably due to the inhibition of germ cell survival, suggesting that INSL3 antagonists may have potential as novel contraceptive agents.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)13068 - 13074
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number19
Publication statusPublished - 2006

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