Substitution of arginine with proline and proline derivatives in melanocyte-stimulating hormones leads to selectivity for human melanocortin 4 receptor

J Med Chem. 2009 Jun 25;52(12):3627-35. doi: 10.1021/jm801300c.


A new series of melanotropin analogues with His or Arg residues in the core pharmacophores of MTII, SHU9119, and Ac-NDP-gamma-MSH-NH(2) replaced by Pro or trans-/cis-4-guanidinyl-Pro derivatives were designed and synthesized to introduce selectivity toward the human melanocortin 4 receptor (hMC4R). Analogues 1, 2, 3, 6, 7, 8 were found to be hMC4R selective. Second messenger studies have demonstrated that analogues 1 and 2 are insurmountable inhibitors of MTII agonist activity at the hMC4R. Molecular modeling studies suggest that the hMC4R selectivity is due to a beta-turn shift induced by the Pro ring that makes the global minimum structures of these analogues resemble the NMR solution structure of the hASIP melanocortin receptor binding motif. Substitution of His in MTII also provided functional selectivity for the hMC3R or the hMC4R. These findings are important for a better understanding of the selectivity mechanism at the hMC3R/hMC4R and the development of therapeutic ligands selectively targeting the hMC4R.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Arginine / chemistry*
  • Crystallography, X-Ray
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Drug Design
  • Humans
  • Ligands
  • Melanocyte-Stimulating Hormones / chemical synthesis
  • Melanocyte-Stimulating Hormones / chemistry*
  • Melanocyte-Stimulating Hormones / pharmacology*
  • Models, Molecular
  • Molecular Conformation
  • Proline / analogs & derivatives*
  • Proline / chemistry*
  • Receptor, Melanocortin, Type 4 / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Receptor, Melanocortin, Type 4 / metabolism
  • Stereoisomerism
  • Structure-Activity Relationship
  • Substrate Specificity


  • Ligands
  • Receptor, Melanocortin, Type 4
  • Melanocyte-Stimulating Hormones
  • Arginine
  • Proline