ACS chemical neuroscience

Molecular-interaction and signaling profiles of AM3677, a novel covalent agonist selective for the cannabinoid 1 receptor.

PMID 25978068


The cannabinoid 1 receptor (CB1R) is one of the most abundant G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) in the central nervous system. CB1R involvement in multiple physiological processes, especially neurotransmitter release and synaptic function, has made this GPCR a prime drug discovery target, and pharmacological CB1R activation has been demonstrated to be a tenable therapeutic modality. Accordingly, the design and profiling of novel, drug-like CB1R modulators to inform the receptor's ligand-interaction landscape and molecular pharmacology constitute a prime contemporary research focus. For this purpose, we report utilization of AM3677, a designer endocannabinoid (anandamide) analogue derivatized with a reactive electrophilic isothiocyanate functionality, as a covalent, CB1R-selective chemical probe. The data demonstrate that reaction of AM3677 with a cysteine residue in transmembrane helix 6 of human CB1R (hCB1R), C6.47(355), is a key feature of AM3677's ligand-binding motif. Pharmacologically, AM3677 acts as a high-affinity, low-efficacy CB1R agonist that inhibits forskolin-stimulated cellular cAMP formation and stimulates CB1R coupling to G protein. AM3677 also induces CB1R endocytosis and irreversible receptor internalization. Computational docking suggests the importance of discrete hydrogen bonding and aromatic interactions as determinants of AM3677's topology within the ligand-binding pocket of active-state hCB1R. These results constitute the initial identification and characterization of a potent, high-affinity, hCB1R-selective covalent agonist with utility as a pharmacologically active, orthosteric-site probe for providing insight into structure-function correlates of ligand-induced CB1R activation and the molecular features of that activation by the native ligand, anandamide.