Rational development of a high-affinity secretin receptor antagonist

Maoqing Dong, Kaleeckal G. Harikumar, Sweta R. Raval, Juliana E. Milburn, Carolyn Clark, Rafael Alcala-Torano, Juan C. Mobarec, Christopher A. Reynolds, Giovanna Ghirlanda, Arthur Christopoulos, Denise Wootten, Patrick M. Sexton, Laurence J. Miller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


The secretin receptor is a prototypic class B GPCR with substantial and broad pharmacologic importance. The aim of this project was to develop a high affinity selective antagonist as a new and important pharmacologic tool and to aid stabilization of this receptor in an inactive conformation for ultimate structural characterization. Amino-terminal truncation of the natural 27-residue ligand reduced biological activity, but also markedly reduced binding affinity. This was rationally and experimentally overcome with lactam stabilization of helical structure and with replacement of residues with natural and unnatural amino acids. A key new step in this effort was the replacement of peptide residue Leu22 with L-cyclohexylalanine (Cha) to enhance potential hydrophobic interactions with receptor residues Leu31, Val34, and Phe92 that were predicted from molecular modeling. Alanine-replacement mutagenesis of these residues markedly affected ligand binding and biological activity. The optimal antagonist ligand, (Y10,c[E16,K20],I17,Cha22,R25)sec(6–27), exhibited high binding affinity (4 nM), similar to natural secretin, and exhibited no demonstrable biological activity to stimulate cAMP accumulation, intracellular calcium mobilization, or β-arrestin-2 translocation. It acts as an orthosteric competitive antagonist, predicted to bind within the peptide-binding groove in the receptor extracellular domain. The analogous peptide that was one residue longer, retaining Thr5, exhibited partial agonist activity, while further truncation of even a single residue (Phe6) reduced binding affinity. This sec(6–27)-based peptide will be an important new tool for pharmacological and structural studies.

Original languageEnglish
Article number113929
JournalBiochemical Pharmacology
Early online date23 Mar 2020
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • Antagonist
  • G protein-coupled receptor
  • Secretin
  • Secretin receptor

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Pharmacology


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