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Identification of hydrophobic interactions between relaxin-3 and its receptor RXFP3: implication for a conformational change in the B-chain C-terminus during receptor binding

Hu, Meng-Jun, Shao, Xiao-Xia, Wang, Jia-Hui, Wei, Dian, Liu, Ya-Li, Xu, Zeng-Guang, Guo, Zhan-Yun
Amino acids 2016 v.48 no.9 pp. 2227-2236
G-protein coupled receptors, cell membranes, electrostatic interactions, food intake, hydrophobic bonding, hydrophobicity, insulin, mutants, neuropeptides, relaxin, stress response
Relaxin-3 is an insulin/relaxin superfamily neuropeptide implicated in the regulation of food intake and stress response via activation of the G protein-coupled receptor RXFP3. Their electrostatic interactions have been recently identified, and involves three positively charged B-chain residues (B12Arg, B16Arg, and B26Arg) of relaxin-3 and two negatively charged residues (Glu141 and Asp145) in a highly conserved ExxxD motif at the extracellular end of the second transmembrane domain of RXFP3. To investigate their hydrophobic interactions, in the present work we deleted the highly conserved B-chain C-terminal B27Trp residue of relaxin-3, and mutated four highly conserved aromatic residues (Phe137, Trp138, Phe146, and Trp148) around the ExxxD motif of RXFP3. The resultant [∆B27W]relaxin-3 exhibited approximately tenfold lower binding potency and ~1000-fold lower activation potency towards wild-type RXFP3, confirming its importance for relaxin-3 function. Although the RXFP3 mutants could be normally trafficked to cell membrane, they had quite different activities. [F137A]RXFP3 could normally distinguish wild-type relaxin-3 and [∆B27W]relaxin-3 in binding and activation assays, whereas [W138A]RXFP3 lost most of this capability, suggesting that the Trp138 residue of RXFP3 forms hydrophobic interactions with the B27Trp residue of relaxin-3. The hydrophobic Trp138 residue and the formerly identified negatively charged Glu141 and Asp145 residues in the highly conserved WxxExxxD motif may thus form a functional surface that is important for interaction with relaxin-3. We hypothesize that the relaxin-3 B-chain C-terminus changes from the original folding-back conformation to an extended conformation during binding with RXFP3, to allow its B27Trp and B26Arg residues to interact with the Trp138 and Glu141 residues of RXFP3, respectively.