Pharmacological characterization of novel small molecule agonists and antagonists for the orphan receptor GPR139

Lisa Pallareti, Tine F. Rath, Boris Trapkov, Tsonko Tsonkov, Anders Thorup Nielsen, Kasper Harpsøe, Patrick R. Gentry, Hans Bräuner-Osborne, David E. Gloriam, Simon R. Foster

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The orphan G protein-coupled receptor GPR139 is predominantly expressed in the central nervous system and has attracted considerable interest as a therapeutic target. However, the biological role of this receptor remains somewhat elusive, in part due to the lack of quality pharmacological tools to investigate GPR139 function. In an effort to understand GPR139 signaling and to identify improved compounds, in this study we performed virtual screening and analog searches, in combination with multiple pharmacological assays. We characterized GPR139-dependent signaling using previously published reference agonists in Ca2+ mobilization and inositol monophosphate accumulation assays, as well as a novel real-time GPR139 internalization assay. For the four reference agonists tested, the rank order of potency was conserved across signaling and internalization assays: JNJ-63533054 > Compound 1a » Takeda > AC4 > DL43, consistent with previously reported values. We noted an increased efficacy of JNJ-63533054-mediated inositol monophosphate signaling and internalization, relative to Compound 1a. We then performed virtual screening for GPR139 agonist and antagonist compounds that were screened and validated in GPR139 functional assays. We identified four GPR139 agonists that were active in all assays, with similar or reduced potency relative to known compounds. Likewise, compound analogs selected based on GPR139 agonist and antagonist substructure searches behaved similarly to their parent compounds. Thus, we have characterized GPR139 signaling for multiple new ligands using G protein-dependent assays and a new real-time internalization assay. These data add to the GPR139 tool compound repertoire, which could be optimized in future medical chemistry campaigns.

Original languageEnglish
Article number175553
Number of pages11
JournalEuropean Journal of Pharmacology
Publication statusPublished - 15 Mar 2023


  • Calcium mobilization
  • GPR139
  • IP accumulation
  • Orphan GPCR
  • Receptor internalization
  • Virtual screening

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