Positive and negative allosteric modulators promote biased signaling at the calcium-sensing receptor

Endocrinology. 2012 Mar;153(3):1232-41. doi: 10.1210/en.2011-1426. Epub 2011 Dec 30.


The calcium-sensing receptor (CaSR) is a G protein-coupled receptor whose function can be allosterically modulated in a positive or negative manner by calcimimetics or calcilytics, respectively. Indeed, the second-generation calcimimetic, cinacalcet, has proven clinically useful in the treatment of chronic kidney disease patients with secondary hyperparathyroidism but is not widely used in earlier stages of renal disease due to the potential to predispose such patients to hypocalcaemia and hyperphosphatemia. The development of a biased CaSR ligand that is more selective for specific signaling pathway(s) leading only to beneficial effects may overcome this limitation. The detection of such stimulus-bias at a G protein-coupled receptor requires investigation across multiple signaling pathways and the development of methods to quantify the effects of allosteric ligands on orthosteric ligand affinity and cooperativity at each pathway. In the current study, we determined the effects of the calcimimetics, NPS-R568 or cinacalcet, and the calcilytic, NPS-2143, on Ca(o)(2+)-mediated intracellular Ca(2+) mobilization, ERK1/2 phosphorylation, and plasma membrane ruffling in a stably transfected human embryonic kidney 293-TREx c-myc-CaSR cell line and applied a novel analytical model to quantify these modulator effects. We present quantitative evidence for the generation of stimulus bias by both positive and negative allosteric modulators of the CaSR, manifested as greater allosteric modulation of intracellular Ca(2+) mobilization relative to ERK1/2 phosphorylation, and a higher affinity of the modulators for the state of the CaSR mediating plasma membrane ruffling relative to the other two pathways. Our findings provide the first evidence that an allosteric modulator used in clinical practice exhibits stimulus bias.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Allosteric Site
  • Aniline Compounds / pharmacology
  • Calcimimetic Agents / chemistry
  • Calcium / metabolism
  • Cell Membrane / metabolism
  • Cinacalcet
  • HEK293 Cells
  • Humans
  • Hyperparathyroidism / metabolism
  • Kidney Diseases / metabolism
  • Kidney Failure, Chronic / metabolism
  • Ligands
  • Naphthalenes / chemistry
  • Naphthalenes / pharmacology
  • Phenethylamines
  • Phosphorylation
  • Propylamines
  • Receptors, Calcium-Sensing / metabolism*
  • Signal Transduction
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Aniline Compounds
  • Calcimimetic Agents
  • Ligands
  • N-(2-chlorophenylpropyl)-1-(3-methoxyphenyl)ethylamine
  • N-(2-hydroxy-3-(2-cyano-3-chlorophenoxy)propyl)-1,1-dimethyl-2-(2-nephthyl)ethylamine
  • Naphthalenes
  • Phenethylamines
  • Propylamines
  • Receptors, Calcium-Sensing
  • Calcium
  • Cinacalcet