A CB1 cannabinoid receptor peptide fragment from the C-terminal juxtamembrane region autonomously inhibits adenylyl cyclase activity in a neuroblastoma membrane preparation. The cannabinoid receptor antagonist, SR141716A, failed to block the response. The peptide was able to evoke the response in membranes from Chinese hamster ovary (CHO) cells that do not express the CB1 receptor. These studies are consistent with a direct activation of G(i) by the peptide. To test the importance of a BXBXXB sequence, Lys403 was acetylated, resulting in a peptide having similar affinity but reduced efficacy. N-Terminal truncation of Arg401 resulted in a 6-fold loss of affinity, which was not further reduced by sequential truncation of up to the first seven amino acids, four of which are charged. N-Terminal-truncated peptides exhibited maximal activity, suggesting that G(i) activation can be conferred by the remaining amino acids. Truncation of the C-terminal Glu417 or substitution of Glu417 by a Leu or of Arg401 by a Norleucine reduced activity at 100 μM. The C-terminal juxtamembrane peptide was constrained to a loop peptide by placement of Cys residues at both terminals and disulfide coupling. This modification reduced the affinity 3-fold but yielded near-maximal efficacy. Blocking the Cys termini resulted in a loss of efficacy. Circular dichroism spectropolarimetry revealed that all C-terminal juxtamembrane peptide analogues exist in a random coil conformation in an aqueous environment. A hydrophobic environment (trifluoroethanol) failed to induce α-helix formation in the C-terminal juxtamembrane peptide but did so in less active peptides. The anionic detergent sodium dodecyl sulfate induced α-helix formation in all analogues except the loop peptide, where it induces a left-handed PII conformation. It is concluded that α-helix formation is not required for G(i) activation.
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