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Cyclic Analogues of the Chemerin C‑Terminus Mimic a Loop Conformation Essential for Activating the Chemokine-like Receptor 1

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posted on 11.03.2021, 23:30 authored by Tobias F. Fischer, Clara T. Schoeder, Tristan Zellmann, Jan Stichel, Jens Meiler, Annette G. Beck-Sickinger
The chemokine-like receptor 1 (CMKLR1) is a promising target for treating autoinflammatory diseases, cancer, and reproductive disorders. However, the interaction between CMKLR1 and its protein–ligand chemerin remains uncharacterized, and no drugs targeting this interaction have passed clinical trials. Here, we identify the binding mode of chemerin-9, the C-terminus of chemerin, at the receptor by combining complementary mutagenesis with structure-based modeling. Incorporating our experimental data, we present a detailed model of this binding site, including experimentally confirmed pairwise interactions for the most critical ligand residues: Chemerin-9 residue F8 binds to a hydrophobic pocket in CMKLR1 formed by the extracellular loop (ECL) 2, while F6 interacts with Y2.68, suggesting a turn-like structure. On the basis of this model, we created the first cyclic peptide with nanomolar activity, confirming the overall binding conformation. This constrained agonist mimics the loop conformation adopted by the natural ligand and can serve as a lead compound for future drug design.