Gonadotropin-releasing hormone analog structural determinants of selectivity for inhibition of cell growth: Support for the concept of ligand-induced selective signaling

Rakel López De Maturana, Adam J. Pawson, Zhi Liang Lu, Lindsay Davidson, Stuart Maudsley, Kevin Morgan, Simon P. Langdon, Robert P. Millar

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30 Citations (Scopus)


GnRH and its receptor are expressed in human reproductive tract cancers, and direct antiproliferative effects of GnRH analogs have been demonstrated in cancer cell lines. The intracellular signaling responsible for this effect differs from that mediating pituitary gonadotropin secretion. The GnRH structure-activity relationship is different for the two effects. Here we report a structure-activity relationship study of GnRH agonist antiproliferative action in model cell systems of rat and human GnRH receptors stably expressed in HEK293 cells. GnRH II was more potent than GnRH I in inhibiting cell growth in the cell lines. In contrast, GnRH I was more potent than GnRH II in stimulating inositol phosphate production, the signaling pathway in gonadotropes. The different residues in GnRH II (His5, Trp7, Tyr 8) were introduced singly or in pairs into GnRH I. Tyr5 replacement by His5 produced the highest increase in the antiproliferative potency of GnRH I. Tyr8 substitution of Arg 8 produced the most selective analog, with very poor inositol phosphate generation but high antiproliferative potency. In nude mice bearing tumors of the HEK293 cell line, GnRH II and an antagonist administration was ineffective in inhibiting tumor growth, but D-amino acid stabilized analogs (D-Lys6 and D-Arg6) ablated tumor growth. Docking of GnRH I and GnRH II to the human GnRH receptor molecular model revealed that Arg 8 of GnRH I makes contact with Asp302, whereas Tyr 8 of GnRH II appears to make different contacts, suggesting these residues stabilize different receptor conformations mediating differential intracellular signaling and effects on gonadotropin and cell growth. These findings provide the basis for the development of selective GnRH analog cancer therapeutics that directly target tumor cells or inhibit pituitary gonadotropins or do both.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1711-1722
Number of pages12
JournalMolecular Endocrinology
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2008
Externally publishedYes

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