Pharmacological characterization of a small-molecule agonist for the chemokine receptor CXCR3.

Authors: Scholten, D.J., Canals, M., Wijtmans, M., de Munnik, S., Nguyen, P., Verzijl, D., de Esch, I.J., Vischer, H.F., Smit, M.J., and Leurs, R.
Publisher/Year: Br J Pharmacol 2012 166, 898-911.
Pub Med ID/Journal ID: PMID:21883151


The chemokine receptor CXCR3 is a GPCR found predominantly on activated T cells. CXCR3 is activated by three endogenous peptides; CXCL9, CXCL10 and CXCL11. Recently, a small-molecule agonist, VUF10661, has been reported in the literature and synthesized in our laboratory. The aim of the present study was to provide a detailed pharmacological characterization of VUF10661 by comparing its effects with those of CXCL11.
Agonistic properties of VUF10661 were assessed in a chemotaxis assay with murine L1.2 cells transiently transfected with cDNA encoding the human CXCR3 receptor and in binding studies, with [(125)I]-CXCL10 and [(125)I]-CXCL11, on membrane preparations from HEK293 cells stably expressing CXCR3. [(35)S]-GTPγS binding was used to determine its potency to induce CXCR3-mediated G protein activation and BRET-based assays to investigate its effects on intracellular cAMP levels and β-arrestin recruitment.
VUF10661 acted as a partial agonist in CXCR3-mediated chemotaxis, bound to CXCR3 in an allosteric fashion in ligand binding assays and activated G(i) proteins with the same efficacy as CXCL11 in the [(35)S]-GTPγS binding and cAMP assay, while it recruited more β-arrestin1 and β-arrestin2 to CXCR3 receptors than the chemokine.
VUF10661, like CXCL11, activates both G protein-dependent and -independent signalling via the CXCR3 receptor, but probably exerts its effects from an allosteric binding site that is different from that for CXCL11. It could stabilize different receptor and/or β-arrestin conformations leading to differences in functional output. Such ligand-biased signalling might offer interesting options for the therapeutic use of CXCR3 agonists.