Involvement of multiple sulfhydryl groups in melatonin signal transduction in chick brain
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To gain insight into the molecular mechanism underlying melatonin binding and signal transduction in the chick brain, we have investigated the role of -SH groups, using a sulfhydryl alkylating reagent N-ethylmaleimide (NEM). At least two -SH groups are involved in the formation of the receptor-G protein complex: one is sensitive to and the other relatively insensitive to NEM. Alkylation of the sensitive group selectively abolishes high affinity binding of 2-[125I]iodomelatonin ([125I]MEL), similar to the effect induced by GTP, thus leading to a complete loss of sensitivity to nucleotides. Modification of both groups causes a marked reduction in binding capacity. Agonists with high affinity, but not other compounds with low affinity for the melatonin receptor, protect against alkylation by NEM. GTP gamma s does not significantly alter the reactivity of -SH groups towards NEM, but agonist-protected receptors remain sensitive to this nucleotide. Moreover, NEM pretreatment blocks the inhibitory effect of melatonin on forskolin-stimulated adenylate cyclase activity in chick brain. These data suggest that the -SH group modulating agonist affinity may lie within the coupling domain between the receptor and G protein but outside of the GTP binding site. In addition, sulfhydryl groups are essential for melatonin binding and signal transduction in chick brain.
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