[half-Cys4,half-Cys10]-α-Melanocyte-stimulating hormone: A cyclic α-melanotropin exhibiting superagonist biological activity

T. K. Sawyer, V. J. Hruby, P. S. Darman, M. E. Hadley

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161 Scopus citations


α-Melanocyte-stimulating hormone (α-melanotropin; α-MSH) is a linear tridecapeptide (Ac-Ser-Tyr-Ser-Met-Glu-His-Phe-Arg-Trp-Gly-Lys-Pro-Val-NH2) that reversibily darkens amphibian skins by stimulating melanosome (pigment granule) dispersion within melanophores. By using a number of in vitro melanocyte assays, we have examined the conformational requirements for α-MSH activity. Synthesis of [half-Cys4,half-Cys10]-α-MSH, a cyclic, conformationally restricted, 'isosteric' analogue of α-MSH, provided a melanotropin with a potency > 10,000 times that of the native hormone in stimulating frog (Rana pipiens) skin darkening. The cyclic analogue also showed substantially prolonged activity relative to the native hormone. [half-Cys4,half-Cys10]-α-MSH was ≃30 times more potent than α-MSH in stimulating lizard (Anolis carolinensis) skin melanophores in vitro. By using a cell-free Cloudman S-91 mouse melanoma plasma membrane preparation, we found the cyclic analogue to be ≃3 times as potent as the native hormone in stimulating adenylate cyclase activity. These results provide insight into the conformational requirements for biological activity of α-MSH, and the comparative conformational requirements of α-MSH at a number of pigment cell receptors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1751-1755
Number of pages5
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number6 I
StatePublished - 1982
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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