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Label-free cell phenotypic study of FFA4 and FFA1 and discovery of novel agonists of FFA4 from natural products

Xu, Fangfang, Zhou, Han, Liu, Xiumei, Zhang, Xiuli, Wang, Zhiwei, Hou, Tao, Wang, Jixia, Qu, Lala, Zhang, Pengyu, Piao, Hailong, Liang, Xinmiao
RSC advances 2019 v.9 no.26 pp. 15073-15083
agonists, alpha-linolenic acid, drugs, emodin, free fatty acids, ligands, mechanism of action, median effective concentration, medicinal properties, phenotype
In this article, pharmacological studies of the free fatty acid receptor (FFA) 4 and FFA1 were conducted in transfected CHO cells (FFA4&FFA1) and HT29 cells with application of a label-free dynamic mass redistribution (DMR) assay. Commercially available compounds including α-linolenic acid (ALA), GW9508, TUG891, GSK137647A, TAK875, MEDICA16, AH7614 and GW1100, were used to validate the assay; real-time tracing of ligand-induced cell responses elucidated pharmacological properties of ligand–receptor interactions. A pool of 140 natural compounds was screened using the CHO-FFA4 cells. Three new FFA4 agonists with novel skeletons were discovered and they were dihydrotanshinone, emodin and acetylshikonin (EC₅₀ values were 32.88, 38.18 and 10.17 μM, respectively). Ligand selectivity was compared between FFA4 and FFA1; dihydrotanshinone and emodin displayed FFA4 selectivity, while acetylshikonin shared FFA1 and FFA4 agonist activities with EC₅₀ values comparable to the endogenous ligand ALA. The three novel FFA4 agonists provide a promising chemical starting point for identification and optimization of drugs used for treating metabolic and inflammatory diseases. Besides, this work will help to explain the mechanism of actions of natural products.