Single amino acid residue determinants of non-peptide antagonist binding to the corticotropin-releasing factor1 (CRF1) receptor

Biochem Pharmacol. 2006 Jul 14;72(2):244-55. doi: 10.1016/j.bcp.2006.04.007. Epub 2006 Apr 25.


The molecular interactions between non-peptide antagonists and the corticotropin-releasing factor type 1 (CRF1) receptor are poorly understood. A CRF1 receptor mutation has been identified that reduces binding affinity of the non-peptide antagonist NBI 27914 (M276I in transmembrane domain 5). We have investigated the mechanism of the mutation's effect using a combination of peptide and non-peptide ligands and receptor mutations. The M276I mutation reduced binding affinity of standard non-peptide antagonists 5-75-fold while having no effect on peptide ligand binding. We hypothesized that the side chain of isoleucine, beta-branched and so rotationally constrained when within an alpha-helix, introduces a barrier to non-peptide antagonist binding. In agreement with this hypothesis, mutation of M276 to the rotationally constrained valine produced similar reductions of affinity as M276I mutation, whereas mutation to leucine (with an unbranched beta-carbon) minimally affected non-peptide antagonist affinity. Mutation to alanine did not appreciably affect non-peptide antagonist affinity, implying the methionine side chain does not contribute directly to binding. Three observations suggested M276I/V mutations interfere with binding of the heterocyclic core of the compounds: (1) all compounds affected by M276I/V mutations possess a planar heterocyclic core. (2) None of the M276 mutations affected binding of an acylic compound. (3) The mutations differentially affected affinity of two compounds that differ only by core methylation. These findings imply that non-peptide antagonists, and specifically the heterocyclic core of such molecules, bind in the vicinity of M276 of the CRF1 receptor. M276 mutations did not affect peptide ligand binding and this residue is distant from determinants of peptide binding (predominantly in the extracellular regions), providing molecular evidence for non-overlapping (allosteric) binding sites for peptide and non-peptide ligands within the CRF1 receptor.

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Amino Acids / chemistry*
  • Animals
  • CHO Cells
  • Cricetinae
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Mutation
  • Radioligand Assay
  • Receptors, Corticotropin-Releasing Hormone / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Receptors, Corticotropin-Releasing Hormone / chemistry
  • Receptors, Corticotropin-Releasing Hormone / metabolism*


  • Amino Acids
  • Receptors, Corticotropin-Releasing Hormone
  • CRF receptor type 1