Biochemical and pharmacological investigation of novel nociceptin/OFQ analogues and N/OFQ-RYYRIK hybrid peptides

Anna I. Erdei, Adina Borbély, Anna Magyar, Edina Szűcs, Ferenc Ötvös, Dávid Gombos, Mahmoud Al-Khrasani, Azzurra Stefanucci, Marilisa Pia Dimmito, Grazia Luisi, Adriano Mollica, Sándor Benyhe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

1 Citation (Scopus)


The endogenous ligand nociceptin (N/OFQ) and a positively charged synthetic peptide RYYRIK are both selective for the nociceptin opioid receptor (NOPr). Despite their structural dissimilarity, N/OFQ and RYYRIK compete for the same binding site of NOP receptor possessing full and partial agonistic character, respectively. In the view of the message-address concept, hybrid peptide constructs were probed for the NOP receptor combining different regions of N/OFQ and RYYRIK related peptide sequences. Nine novel nociceptin- or Ac-RYYRIK-NH2 peptide variants or hybrid peptides were synthesized and characterized. Peptides P2 and P8 contain fragments of native N/OFQ. The other seven analogues (P1, P3-7, P9) are composed of Ac-RYYRIK-NH2 fragments and parts of the original nociceptin sequence. The analogues were characterized in receptor binding assays and G-protein activation experiments on rat brain membranes, as well as by electrically stimulated mouse vas deferens bioassay. In receptor binding assays ligands P2, P4, P6 (Ki 0.37 nM) and P7 showed higher affinity (Ki 0.65 nM, 0.6 nM, 0.37 nM and 0.44 nM, respectively) for NOP receptor than their parent compounds N/OFQ (Ki 2.8 nM) or Ac-RYYRIK-NH2 (Ki 4.2 nM). In [35S]GTPγS binding experiments P2 and P3 behaved as full agonists. The other variants exhibited partial agonist properties characterized by submaximal stimulatory effects. In mouse vas deferens bioassay only P2 showed agonist activity. P4, P5, P6 inhibited the biological activity of N/OFQ more effectively than the NOP receptor selective antagonist JTC-801. In summary, hybrid peptides P4, P5 and P6 proved to be NOP receptor partial agonists even antagonists, while P2 peptide retained the full agonist property.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)106-113
Number of pages8
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2019



  • Bivalent ligands
  • G-protein activation
  • Hybrid peptides
  • Mouse vas deferens bioassay
  • Nociceptin
  • Opioid receptor
  • Receptor binding

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Physiology
  • Endocrinology
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience

Cite this