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Chemogenetics defines receptor-mediated functions of short chain free fatty acids.

Bolognini D, Barki N, Butcher AJ, Hudson BD, Sergeev E, Molloy C, Moss CE, Bradley SJ, Le Gouill C, Bouvier M, Tobin AB, Milligan G

Centre for Translational Pharmacology, Institute of Molecular, Cell and Systems Biology, College of Medical, Veterinary and Life Sciences, University of Glasgow, Glasgow, UK.

Differentiating actions of short chain fatty acids (SCFAs) at free fatty acid receptor 2 (FFA2) from other free fatty acid-responsive receptors and from non-receptor-mediated effects has been challenging. Using a novel chemogenetic and knock-in strategy, whereby an engineered variant of FFA2 (FFA2-DREADD) that is unresponsive to natural SCFAs but is instead activated by sorbic acid replaced the wild-type receptor, we determined that activation of FFA2 in differentiated adipocytes and colonic crypt enteroendocrine cells of mouse accounts fully for SCFA-regulated lipolysis and release of the incretin glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1), respectively. In vivo studies confirmed the specific role of FFA2 in GLP-1 release and also demonstrated a direct role for FFA2 in accelerating gut transit. Thereby, we establish the general principle that such a chemogenetic knock-in strategy can successfully define novel G-protein-coupled receptor (GPCR) biology and provide both target validation and establish therapeutic potential of a 'hard to target' GPCR.

Nat. Chem. Biol. 2019;15(5):489-498.

Pubmed ID: 30992568

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