The role of the amino-terminal domain of tachykinins in neurokinin-1 receptor signaling and desensitization

Steven R Vigna
Neuropeptides 2003, 37 (1): 30-5
Neurokinin A (NKA) has previously been shown to be a full agonist of the neurokinin-1 receptor (NK-1R) but is only able to cause partial homologous desensitization of the receptor compared to substance P (SP). NKA and SP share the same amino acid sequence at their C-terminal active site domains but differ in structure at their N-terminal domains. These observations have led to the proposal that the N-terminal domains of tachykinin peptides affect the desensitization but not the agonist activities of the peptides. Some of the preprotachykinin proteins contain SP and the NKA-like tachykinins neuropeptide K (NPK) and neuropeptide gamma (NPgamma), which contain NKA at their C-terminals and are N-terminally extended. In this study, the abilities of NKA, NPK, and NPgamma to stimulate NK-1R second messenger (IP(3)) signaling and rapid homologous desensitization of the NK-1R were examined. In addition, a similar analysis was performed using several nonmammalian tachykinin peptides in order to obtain additional insight into the role of the tachykinin N-terminal domain in these NK-1R functions. NPK and NPgamma were found, like NKA, to be full agonists of rat NK-1R IP(3) signaling but, unlike NKA, were also able to cause full rapid homologous desensitization of the receptor. The extended N-terminal domains of NPK and NPgamma thus increase the desensitization activities of these NKA-like peptides. Of the nonmammalian tachykinins tested, all were full agonists but kassinin and eledoisin had only partial homologous desensitization activity, suggesting that the N-terminal structures of these peptides also differentially affect agonist versus desensitization activities of the NK-1R.

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