Structures of active melanocortin-4 receptor-Gs-protein complexes with NDP-alpha-MSH and setmelanotide
N. A. Heyder, G. Kleinau, D. Speck, A. Schmidt, S. Paisdzior, M. Szczepek, B. Bauer, A. Koch, M. Gallandi, D. Kwiatkowski, et al. – 2021
The melanocortin-4 receptor (MC4R), a hypothalamic master regulator of energy homeostasis and appetite, is a class A G-protein-coupled receptor and a prime target for the pharmacological treatment of obesity. Here, we present cryo-electron microscopy structures of MC4R-Gs-protein complexes with two drugs recently approved by the FDA, the peptide agonists NDP-alpha-MSH and setmelanotide, with 2.9 angstrom and 2.6 angstrom resolution. Together with signaling data from structure-derived MC4R mutants, the complex structures reveal the agonist-induced origin of transmembrane helix (TM) 6-regulated receptor activation. The ligand-binding modes of NDP-alpha-MSH, a high-affinity linear variant of the endogenous agonist alpha-MSH, and setmelanotide, a cyclic anti-obesity drug with biased signaling toward Gq/11, underline the key role of TM3 in ligand-specific interactions and of calcium ion as a ligand-adaptable cofactor. The agonist-specific TM3 interplay subsequently impacts receptor-Gs-protein interfaces at intracellular loop 2, which also regulates the G-protein coupling profile of this promiscuous receptor. Finally, our structures reveal mechanistic details of MC4R activation/inhibition, and provide important insights into the regulation of the receptor signaling profile which will facilitate the development of tailored anti-obesity drugs.