Comparison of the structure-activity relationships of melatonin receptor agonists and antagonists: lengthening the N-acyl side-chain has differing effects on potency on Xenopus melanophores
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The potency and affinity of two series of melatonin receptor ligands were examined using the pigment aggregation response in a clonal line of Xenopus laevis melanophores and radioligand binding assays on native receptors in chicken brain, recombinant human mt1 and MT2 and Xenopus laevis mel1c receptor subtypes. One series was based on melatonin and had a methoxy group at the 5-position of the indole ring, while the other was based on luzindole and lacked this substituent but did have a 2-benzyl moiety; the N-acyl group of each series of analogues was varied from one to five carbon atoms. All analogues in the melatonin series were full agonists in melanophores (pEC50 7.76–10.24), while all compounds in the luzindole series were competitive melatonin antagonists (pA 2 5.47–6.60). With the agonist series, increasing the N-acyl side-chain from one to three carbon atoms was well tolerated in both the functional and binding assays, but further lengthening of the side-chain progressively and dramatically reduced potency and affinity. In contrast, for the antagonist series neither potency nor binding affinity changed substantially with the length of the N-acyl chain, except at the recombinant MT2 subtype where two of the analogues had a lower affinity. In binding assays, three of the five antagonists were MT2-selective; the most selective analogue (N-pentanoyl 2-benzyltryptamine, MT2 pK i 8.03) having 89- and 229-fold higher affinity than at mt1 or mel1c receptor subtypes. The different structure-activity relationships of these receptor agonists and antagonists is discussed with regard to the possible binding sites of agonists and antagonists within the receptor protein.
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