Reassessment of the pharmacology of Sphingosine-1-phosphate S1P3 receptor ligands using the DiscoveRx PathHunter™ and Ca2+ release functional assays

D. M. Riddy, C. Stamp, D. A. Sykes, S. J. Charlton, M. R. Dowling

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10 Citations (Scopus)


BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE DiscoverRx's PathHunter™ assay measures GPCR agonist potency, via the recruitment of β-arrestin, independent of the subtype of Gα protein activated. This assay is frequently used in drug discovery although little is known about the agonist pharmacology generated. Here we have compared agonist potency, efficacy and affinity values obtained in PathHunter™ assays with those from more established radioligand binding and functional techniques. EXPERIMENTAL APPROACH Using cells expressing the human sphingosine-1-phosphate S1P3 receptor at four different densities, we compared pharmacological affinity and efficacy values of four structurally distinct ligands - FTY720-P, VPC24191, CYM5442 and the endogenous agonist S1P - obtained from competition binding, functional Ca 2+ release and PathHunter™ assays. KEY RESULTS The pK i values for S1P were significantly different (9.34 ± 0.10 and 8.92 ± 0.15) in clones expressing different receptor levels using the binding assay. In the PathHunter™ and Ca2+ assays, S1P and CYM5442 were full agonists, FTY720-P was a partial agonist, while the efficacy of VPC24191 could not be detected in PathHunter™ assays. VPC23019, previously described as a S1P1/3 receptor antagonist, behaved as an S1P3 receptor partial agonist in the Ca2+ release assay. CONCLUSIONS AND IMPLICATIONS Comparison of data from the PathHunter™ assay with binding and functional Ca2+ assays suggest that PathHunter™ assays measured a different agonist-bound receptor conformation. While this assay has great utility in drug discovery, care must be taken as high-efficacy, low-affinity agonist compounds would not be detected. Therefore highly amplified, more traditional assays are necessary to identify agonists with low efficacy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)868-880
Number of pages13
JournalBritish Journal of Pharmacology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • β-arrestin coupling
  • agonist efficacy
  • DiscoveRx PathHunter™
  • drug discovery
  • receptor conformation
  • Sphingosine-1-phosphate

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