Hydrocarbon stapled B chain analogues of relaxin-3 retain biological activity

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HighlightsRelaxin-3 binds and activates the receptor RXFP3 through its B chain, which is stabilised in an alpha-helical conformation by a disulphide bonded A chain.The relaxin-3 B chain was chemically stapled at the 14 and 18 positions and 18 and 22 positions by ring-closing metathesis.Stapled relaxin-3 B chain peptides have greater helicity than the unstapled B chain.Stapled relaxin-3 B chain peptides bind RXFP3 and retain biological activity in cAMP inhibition and ERK1/2 activation assays.Relaxin-3 or insulin-like peptide 7 (INSL7) is the most recently discovered relaxin/insulin-like family peptide. Mature relaxin-3 consists of an A chain and a B chain held by disulphide bonds. According to structure activity relationship studies, the relaxin-3 B chain is more important in binding and activating the receptor. RXFP3 (also known as Relaxin-3 receptor 1, GPCR 135, somatostatin- and angiotensin- like peptide receptor or SALPR) was identified as the cognate receptor for relaxin-3 by expression profiles and binding studies. Recent studies imply roles of this system in mediating stress and anxiety, feeding, metabolism and cognition. Stapling of peptides is a technique used to develop peptide drugs for otherwise undruggable targets. The main advantages of stapling include, increased activity due to reduced proteolysis, increased affinity to receptors and increased cell permeability. Stable agonists and antagonists of RXFP3 are crucial for understanding the physiological significance of this system. So far, agonists and antagonists of RXFP3 are peptides. In this study, for the first time, we have introduced stapling of the relaxin-3 B chain at 14th and 18th positions (14s18) and 18th and 22nd position (18s22). These stapled peptides showed greater helicity than the unstapled relaxin-3 B chain in circular dichroism analysis. Both stapled peptides bound RXFP3 and activated RXFP3 as observed in an inhibition of forskolin-induced cAMP assay and a ERK1/2 activation assay, although with different potencies. Therefore, we conclude that stapling of the relaxin3 B chain does not compromise its ability to activate RXFP3 and is a promising method for developing stable peptide agonists and antagonists of RXFP3 to aid relaxin-3/RXFP3 research.

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