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Molecular and functional analysis of human β-defensin 3 action at melanocortin receptors.

Authors
Type
Published Article
Journal
Chemistry & Biology
Publisher
Elsevier
Volume
20
Issue
6
Pages
784–795
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1016/j.chembiol.2013.04.015
Source
UCSC Aging biomedical-ucsc
License
Unknown

Abstract

The β-defensins are a class of small, cationic proteins first recognized as antimicrobial components of the innate and adaptive immune system. More recently, one of the major β-defensins produced in skin, β-defensin 3, has been discovered to function as a melanocortin receptor ligand in vivo and in vitro, but its biophysical and pharmacological basis of action has been enigmatic. Here, we report functional and biochemical studies focused on human β-defensin 3 (HBD3) and melanocortin receptors 1 and 4. Genetic and pharmacologic studies indicate that HBD3 acts as a neutral melanocortin receptor antagonist capable of blocking the action of either stimulatory agonists such as α-melanocyte stimulating hormone or inhibitory inverse agonists such as Agouti signaling protein (ASIP) and Agouti-related protein (AGRP). A comprehensive structure-function analysis demonstrates that two patches of positively charged residues, located on opposite poles of HBD3 and spatially organized by the compact β-defensin fold, are primarily responsible for high-affinity binding to melanocortin receptors. These findings identify a distinct mode of melanocortin receptor-ligand interactions based primarily on electrostatic complementarity, with implications for designing ligands that target melanocortin and potentially other seven transmembrane receptors.

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