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Papers of the Week

Papers: 30 Jan 2021 - 5 Feb 2021

Animal Studies, Pharmacology/Drug Development

2021 Jan 27

J Biol Chem

A lipid-anchored neurokinin 1 receptor antagonist prolongs pain relief by a three-pronged mechanism of action targeting the receptor at the plasma membrane and in endosomes.


Mai QN, Shenoy P, Quach T, Retamal JS, Gondin AB, Yeatman HR, Aurelio L, Conner JW, Poole DP, Canals M, Nowell CJ, Graham B, Davis TP, Briddon SJ, Hill SJ, Porter CJH, Bunnett NW, Halls ML, Veldhuis NA
J Biol Chem. 2021 Jan 27:100345.
PMID: 33515548.


G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) are traditionally known for signaling at the plasma membrane, but they can also signal from endosomes after internalization to control important pathophysiological processes. In spinal neurons, sustained endosomal signaling of the neurokinin 1 receptor (NKR) mediates nociception, as demonstrated in models of acute and neuropathic pain. An NKR antagonist, Spantide I (Span), conjugated to cholestanol (Span-Chol), accumulates in endosomes, inhibits endosomal NKR signaling, and causes prolonged anti-nociception. However, the extent to which the Chol-anchor influences long-term location and activity is poorly understood. Herein, we used fluorescent correlation spectroscopy and targeted biosensors to characterize Span-Chol over time. The Chol-anchor increased local concentration of probe at the plasma membrane. Over time we observed an increase in NKR binding affinity and more potent inhibition of NKR-mediated calcium signaling. Span-Chol, but not Span, caused a persistent decrease in NKR recruitment of β-arrestin and receptor internalization to early endosomes. Using targeted biosensors, we mapped the relative inhibition of NKR signaling as the receptor moved into the cell. Span selectively inhibited cell surface signaling, whereas Span-Chol partitioned into endosomal membranes and blocked endosomal signaling. In a preclinical model of pain, Span-Chol caused prolonged antinociception (>9 h), which is attributable to a three-pronged mechanism of action: increased local concentration at membranes, a prolonged decrease in NKR endocytosis, and persistent inhibition of signaling from endosomes. Identifying the mechanisms that contribute to the increased preclinical efficacy of lipid-anchored NKR antagonists is an important step toward understanding how we can effectively target intracellular GPCRs in disease.