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Carolin L Piechowski, Anne Rediger, Christina Lagemann, Jessica Mühlhaus, Anne Müller, Juliane Pratzka, Patrick Tarnow, Annette Grüters, Heiko Krude, Gunnar Kleinau and Heike Biebermann

Obesity is one of the most challenging global health problems. One key player in energy homeostasis is the melanocortin-4 receptor (MC4R), which is a family A G-protein-coupled receptor (GPCR). It has recently been shown that MC4R has the capacity to form homo- or heterodimers. Dimerization of GPCRs is of great importance for signaling regulation, with major pharmacological implications. Unfortunately, not enough is yet known about the detailed structural properties of MC4R dimers or the functional consequences of receptor dimerization. Our goal, therefore, was to explore specific properties related to MC4R dimerization. First, we aimed to induce the dissociation of dimers to monomers and to compare the functional parameters of wild-type and MC4R variants. To inhibit homodimerization, we designed MC4R chimeras with the cannabinoid-1 receptor, a receptor that does not interact with MC4R. Indeed, we identified several substitutions in the intracellular loop 2 (ICL2) and adjacent regions of transmembrane helix 3 (TMH3) and TMH4 that lead to partial dimer dissociation. Interestingly, the capacity for signaling activity was generally increased in these MC4R variants, although receptor expression remained unchanged. This increase in activity for dissociated receptors might indicate a link between receptor dimerization and signaling capacity. Moreover, dimer dissociation was also observed in a naturally occurring activating MC4R mutation in ICL2. Taken together, this study provides new information on the structural prerequisites for MC4R dimerization and identifies an approach to induce the dissociation of MC4R dimers. This might be useful for further investigation of pharmacological properties.

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Juliane Dinter, Jessica Mühlhaus, Simon Friedrich Jacobi, Carolin Leonie Wienchol, Maxi Cöster, Jaroslawna Meister, Carolin Stephanie Hoefig, Anne Müller, Josef Köhrle, Annette Grüters, Heiko Krude, Jens Mittag, Torsten Schöneberg, Gunnar Kleinau and Heike Biebermann

Most in vivo effects of 3-iodothyronamine (3-T1AM) have been thus far thought to be mediated by binding at the trace amine-associated receptor 1 (TAAR1). Inconsistently, the 3-T1AM-induced hypothermic effect still persists in Taar1 knockout mice, which suggests additional receptor targets. In support of this general assumption, it has previously been reported that 3-T1AM also binds to the α-2A-adrenergic receptor (ADRA2A), which modulates insulin secretion. However, the mechanism of this effect remains unclear. We tested two different scenarios that may explain the effect: the sole action of 3-T1AM at ADRA2A and a combined action of 3-T1AM at ADRA2A and TAAR1, which is also expressed in pancreatic islets. We first investigated a potential general signaling modification using the label-free EPIC technology and then specified changes in signaling by cAMP inhibition and MAPKs (ERK1/2) determination. We found that 3-T1AM induced Gi/o activation at ADRA2A and reduced the norepinephrine (NorEpi)-induced MAPK activation. Interestingly, in ADRA2A/TAAR1 hetero-oligomers, application of NorEpi resulted in uncoupling of the Gi/o signaling pathway, but it did not affect MAPK activation. However, 3-T1AM application in mice over a period of 6 days at a daily dose of 5 mg/kg had no significant effects on glucose homeostasis. In summary, we report an agonistic effect of 3-T1AM on the ADRA2A-mediated Gi/o pathway but an antagonistic effect on MAPK induced by NorEpi. Moreover, in ADRA2A/TAAR1 hetero-oligomers, the capacity of NorEpi to stimulate Gi/o signaling is reduced by co-stimulation with 3-T1AM. The present study therefore points to a complex spectrum of signaling modification mediated by 3-T1AM at different G protein-coupled receptors.