Background and purpose: Recent evidence suggested that urotensin II (UII) and its paralog peptide UII-related peptide (URP) might exert common but also divergent physiological actions. Unfortunately, none of the existing antagonists were designed to discriminate specific UII- or URP-associated actions, and our understanding, on how these two endogenous peptides can trigger different, but also common responses, is limited.
Experimental approach: Ex vivo rat and monkey aortic ring contraction as well as dissociation kinetics studies using transfected CHO cells expressing the human urotensin (UT) receptors were used in this study.
Key results: Ex vivo rat and monkey aortic ring contraction studies revealed the propensity of [Pep(4)]URP to decrease the maximal response of human UII (hUII) without any significant change in potency, whereas no effect was noticeable on the URP-induced vasoconstriction. Dissociation experiments demonstrated the ability of [Pep(4)]URP to increase the dissociation rate of hUII, but not URP. Surprisingly, URP, an equipotent UII paralog, was also able to accelerate the dissociation rate of membrane-bound (125)I-hUII, whereas hUII had no noticeable effect on URP dissociation kinetics. Further experiments suggested that an interaction between the glutamic residue at position 1 of hUII and the UT receptor seems to be critical to induce conformational changes associated with agonistic activation. Finally, we demonstrated that the N-terminal domain of the rat UII isoform was able to act as a specific antagonist of the URP-associated actions.
Conclusion: Such compounds, that is [Pep(4)]URP and rUII(1-7), should prove to be useful as new pharmacological tools to decipher the specific role of UII and URP in vitro but also in vivo.
© 2012 The Authors. British Journal of Pharmacology © 2012 The British Pharmacological Society.