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Modulators of the orphan G protein-coupled receptors GPR78 and GPR26

Imported: 13 Feb '17 | Published: 18 Jan '11

Suke Wang, Frederick James Monsma, Jr., Xiaoxin Yang, Eric L. Gustafson, Maureen Laverty, Elizabeth B. Smith

USPTO - Utility Patents

Abstract

The invention relates to the use of the interaction between the GPR78 polypeptide or the GPR26 polypeptide and their identified ligands and antagonists as the basis for screening methods for the identification of agents that modulate the activity of these receptors, and for diagnostic and therapeutic purposes. The agents identified by the screening methods of the invention have use in the treatment of GPR78- and/or GPR26-mediated disorders, including, but not limited to, neurological disorders (such as anxiety disorders), metabolic disorders, cardiovascular disorders, hormone-related disorders, vascular disorders and hyperproliferative disorders (such as cancer).

Description

RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application claims the benefit of priority under 35 U.S.C. §119(e) to U.S. Provisional Patent Application No. 60/872,124, filed Dec. 1, 2006, the contents of which are hereby incorporated by reference in its entirety.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Genistein is an isoflavone found abundantly in soy products and other plants. Genistein has been reported to have beneficial effects in preventing cardiovascular disorders, hormone-related disorders, and cancers ([1-5]). Genistein has also been reported to induce apoptosis and inhibit activation of NF-kappaB and Akt signaling pathways ([6-8]), act as an antioxidant ([9, 10]), manifest biological effects through interaction with the estrogen receptor ([7, 11]), and inhibit protein tyrosine kinase ([12, 13]) and cellular proliferation in vascular endothelium and smooth muscle ([14, 15]). In addition, genistein has been found to stimulate insulin secretion in pancreatic beta cells through a cAMP-mediated protein kinase pathway ([16]), suggesting involvement of genistein in metabolic processes. Incubation of genistein with endothelial cells has also been reported to result in the accumulation of intracellular cAMP and to lead to activation of cAMP-dependent protein kinase A ([17]). Involvement of genistein in metabolic processes has also been implied in a publication reporting the regulation of leptin secretion from adipocytes by genistein ([18]).

Diphenyleneiodonium Cl is known as a potent and irreversible inhibitor of NO synthase (NOS). It has been shown to inhibit NOS in cultured peritoneal macrophages (IC50=30 nM), as well as block acetylcholine-induced relaxation of rabbit aortic rings (IC50=0.3 μM) ([40]). It also inhibits other NADPH-utilizing flavoproteins such as NADPH oxidase of human neutrophils ([41]) and macrophages ([42]). Diphenyleneiodonium Cl has the following structure:

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Sanguinarine is an alkaloid obtained from the bloodroot plant, Sanguinaria canadensis, which is used to treat and remove dental plaque. Sanguinarine is known to have anti-microbial, anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties. It also has anti-proliferative, pro-apoptosis effects in some cancer cell lines ([43, 44, 45, 46]). Sanguinarine Cl has the following structure:

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The sanguinarine family of plant alkaloids also includes structurally related amphipathic cations such as berberine and palmatine.

G protein-coupled receptors (“GPCRs”) are a family of cell surface receptors that upon activation by their endogenous ligands transmit extracellular signal into cells to control a variety of cellular functions. The most commonly recognized signaling transduction pathways are those mediated by the G protein families including Gq, Gs, Gi, and Go. Recently other pathways independent of G proteins are also found such as beta-arrestin-mediated signal transduction.

GPR78 has been cloned and found to be expressed mainly in pituitary and placenta ([19]), and has been implicated in a genetic linkage study in bipolar affective disorder and schizophrenia ([20]). There have been no reports on the identification of ligands for GPR78 to date.

GPR78 has also cloned and found to be expressed mainly in the brain. There have been no reports on the identification of ligands for GPR26 to date.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The invention is based, in part, on the identification of certain isoflavones, including genistein and daidzein, as ligands for the GPR78 and GPR26 polypeptides. The invention is also based, in part, on the identification of diphenyleneiodonium Cl, sanguinarine Cl, and analogs thereof as antagonists of the GPR78 and GPR26 polypeptides. The invention relates to the use of the interaction between the GPR78 polypeptide or the GPR26 polypeptide, and their identified ligands and/or antagonists, as the basis for screening methods for the identification of agents that modulate (for example by agonizing or antagonizing) the activity of these receptors, and for diagnostic and therapeutic purposes. The agents identified by the screening methods of the invention have use in the treatment of GPR78- and/or GPR26-mediated disorders, including, but not limited to, neurological disorders (such as anxiety disorders), metabolic disorders, cardiovascular disorders, hormone-related disorders, vascular disorders and hyperproliferative disorders (such as cancer).

The invention encompasses the use of isoflavones or analogs thereof, including the use of genistein and daidzein, for the treatment of GPR78- and/or GPR26-mediated disorders. The invention also encompasses the use of diphenyleneiodonium Cl, sanguinarine Cl, analogs of diphenyleneiodonium Cl or analogs of sanguinarine Cl for the treatment of GPR78- and/or GPR26-mediated disorders.

The invention encompasses compositions and kits comprising: a GPR78 polypeptide and a ligand and/or antagonist for this polypeptide; a GPR26 polypeptide and a ligand and/or antagonist for this polypeptide; or a GPR78 polypeptide, a GPR26 polypeptide and one or more ligands and/or antagonists for these polypeptides.

In one embodiment, the invention encompasses a method for identifying a modulator of a GPR78 or GPR26 polypeptide, comprising: (a) contacting a GPR78 or GPR26 polypeptide or a fragment thereof with a ligand of the GPR78 or GPR26 polypeptide in the presence and absence of a test sample, under conditions permitting the binding of the ligand to the GPR78 or GPR26 polypeptide; and (b) measuring the amount of the ligand that is bound to the GPR78 or GPR26 polypeptide, wherein a modulator of the GPR78 or GPR26 polypeptide in the test sample is identified by measuring a change in binding of the ligand to the GPR78 or GPR26 polypeptide in the presence and absence of the test sample. In one embodiment, the ligand is labeled, and the binding of the ligand to the GPR78 or GPR26 polypeptide is measured by detecting the label. The label may be any detectable label. In one embodiment, the label is selected from the group consisting of a radioisotope, a fluorophore, a quencher of fluorescence, an enzyme, a dye, a luminophore, and an affinity tag.

The invention also encompasses a method for identifying a modulator of a GPR78 or GPR26 polypeptide, comprising: (a) contacting a GPR78 or GPR26 polypeptide or a fragment thereof with a ligand of the GPR78 or GPR26 polypeptide in the presence and absence of a test sample; and (b) measuring the activity of the GPR78 or GPR26 polypeptide, wherein a modulator of the GPR78 or GPR26 polypeptide in the test sample is identified by measuring a change in the activity of the GPR78 or GPR26 polypeptide in the presence and absence of the test sample.

The invention also encompasses a method for identifying a modulator of a GPR78 or GPR26 polypeptide, comprising: (a) contacting a GPR78 or GPR26 polypeptide or a fragment thereof with a test sample in the presence and absence of a ligand of the GPR78 or GPR26 polypeptide; and (b) measuring the activity of the GPR78 or GPR26 polypeptide, wherein a modulator of the GPR78 or GPR26 polypeptide in the test sample is identified by measuring a change in the activity of the GPR78 or GPR26 polypeptide in the presence and absence of the known ligand.

The invention also encompasses a method for identifying a modulator of a GPR78 or GPR26 polypeptide, comprising: (a) contacting a GPR78 or GPR26 polypeptide or a fragment thereof with a test sample; and (b) measuring the activity of the GPR78 or GPR26 polypeptide, wherein a modulator of the GPR78 or GPR26 polypeptide in the test sample is identified by comparing the activity of the GPR78 or GPR26 polypeptide in the presence of the test sample to a standard value, wherein the standard value is based on the activity of the GPR78 or GPR26 polypeptide in the presence of a ligand of the GPR78 or GPR26 polypeptide.

The invention also encompasses a method for identifying a modulator of a GPR78 or GPR26 polypeptide, comprising: (a) contacting a GPR78 or GPR26 polypeptide or a fragment thereof with a ligand and a test sample; and (b) measuring the activity of the GPR78 or GPR26 polypeptide, wherein a modulator of the GPR78 or GPR26 polypeptide in the test sample is identified by comparing the activity of the GPR78 or GPR26 polypeptide in the presence of the ligand and the test sample to a standard value, wherein the standard value is based on the activity of the GPR78 or GPR26 polypeptide in the presence of the ligand and an antagonist of the GPR78 or GPR26 polypeptide.

In any of the above-described, methods for identifying a modulator of a GPR78 or GPR26 polypeptide, the ligand may be an isoflavone or an analog thereof, or a phytoestrogen or an analog thereof. In one embodiment, the ligand is genistein or an analog thereof. In another embodiment, the ligand is daidzein or an analog thereof. In another embodiment, the ligand is biochanin A or an analog thereof. In another embodiment, the ligand is formononetin or an analog thereof. In one embodiment, the antagonist is diphenyleneiodonium Cl or an analog thereof. In another embodiment, the antagonist is sanguinarine Cl or an analog thereof.

In any of the above-described methods for identifying a modulator of a GPR78 or GPR26 polypeptide, the modulator is suitable to treat a GPR78- or GPR26-mediated disorder. In one embodiment, the GPR78- or GPR26-mediated disorder is an anxiety disorder. In another embodiment, the GPR78- or GPR26-mediated disorder is a metabolic disorder.

In any of the above-described methods for identifying a modulator of a GPR78 or GPR26 polypeptide, the modulator may be an agonist or an antagonist. In one embodiment, the modulator is an agonist of GPR78 or GPR26. In another embodiment, the modulator is an antagonist of GPR78 or GPR26.

In any of the above-described methods for identifying a modulator of a GPR78 or GPR26 polypeptide, the GPR78 or GPR26 polypeptide or fragment thereof may be: on the surface of a mammalian cell, on a cell membrane preparation, on a lipid vesicle, immobilized to a solid surface, or substantially purified.

In any of the above-described methods for identifying a modulator of a GPR78 or GPR26 polypeptide, the test sample may comprise an agent selected from the group consisting of: a peptide, a polypeptide, an antibody or antigen-biding fragment thereof, a lipid, a carbohydrate, a nucleic acid, and a small organic molecule.

In any of the above-described methods for identifying a modulator of a GPR78 or GPR26 polypeptide, the activity of the GPR78 or GPR26 polypeptide may be measured by measuring a change in the level of a second messenger. In one embodiment, the second messenger is cAMP. In one embodiment, the change in the level of cAMP is measured using a luciferase reporting system. In one embodiment, the change in the level of cAMP is measured using a cell that has been stably transformed with a cAMP-responsive luciferase reporter gene.

The invention also encompasses a method for identifying an agent to treat a GPR78- or GPR26-mediated disorder, comprising screening for modulators of the GPR78 or GPR26 polypeptide. In one embodiment, the GPR78- or GPR26-mediated disorder is an anxiety disorder. In another embodiment, the GPR78- or GPR26-mediated disorder is a metabolic disorder.

The invention also encompasses a method of treating a GPR78- or GPR26-mediated disorder, comprising administering to a subject in need thereof, an effective amount of a composition comprising a modulator of a GPR78 or GPR26 polypeptide. In one embodiment, the subject is human. In one embodiment, the modulator is an agonist of the GPR78 or GPR26 receptor. In another embodiment, the modulator is an antagonist of the GRP78 or GPR26 receptor. In one embodiment, the modulator is an isoflavone or an analog thereof. In one embodiment, the modulator is a phytoestrogen or an analog thereof. In another embodiment, the modulator is genistein or an analog thereof. In another embodiment, the modulator is daidzein or an analog thereof. In another embodiment, the modulator is biochanin A or an analog thereof. In another embodiment, the modulator is formononetin or an analog thereof. In another embodiment, the modulator is not an isoflavone or an analog thereof. In another embodiment, the modulator is not genistein or an analog thereof. In another embodiment, the modulator is not daidzein or an analog thereof. In another embodiment, the modulator is diphenyleneiodonium Cl or an analog thereof. In another embodiment, the modulator is sanguinarine Cl or an analog thereof.

In one embodiment, the GPR78- or GPR26-mediated disorder is a neurological disorder. In one embodiment, the neurological disorder is an anxiety disorder such as a generalized anxiety disorder, an obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), a panic disorder, a post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or a social phobia (also referred to as social anxiety disorder). In one embodiment, the neurological disorder is bipolar affective disorder or schizophrenia. In another embodiment, the neurological disorder is Alzheimer's disease. In one embodiment, the GPR78- or GPR26-mediated disorder is a neurological disorder and the modulator is: an isoflavone or an analog thereof, a phytoestrogen or an analog thereof, genistein or an analog thereof, daidzein or an analog thereof, biochanin A or an analog thereof, formononetin or an analog thereof, diphenyleneiodonium Cl or an analog thereof, or sanguinarine Cl or an analog thereof.

In one embodiment, the GPR78- or GPR26-mediated disorder is a metabolic disorder. In one embodiment, the metabolic disorder is obesity or diabetes.

In one embodiment, the disorder is a GPR26-mediated disorder, and the invention encompasses the use of a GPR26 agonist to treat the GPR26-mediated disorder. In one embodiment, the GPR26-mediated disorder is a metabolic disorder such as obesity or diabetes. In one embodiment, the GPR26 agonist is an antibody or an antigen-binding fragment thereof that binds to and activates GPR26.

In one embodiment, the disorder is a GPR26-mediated disorder, and the invention encompasses the use of a GPR26 antagonist to treat the GPR26-mediated disorder. In one embodiment, the GPR26-mediated disorder is an anxiety disorder such as a generalized anxiety disorder, an obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), a panic disorder, a post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or a social phobia (also referred to as social anxiety disorder). In one embodiment, the GPR26 antagonist is an antibody or an antigen-binding fragment thereof that binds to and inactivates GPR26.

In one embodiment, the GPR78- or GPR26-mediated disorder is a CNS-mediated disorder.

In one embodiment, the GPR78- or GPR26-mediated disorder is a cardiovascular disorder. In one embodiment, the cardiovascular disorder is coronary heart disease. In one embodiment, the cardiovascular disorder is selected from the group consisting of arteriosclerosis, angina, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart attack, stroke or arrhythmia.

In one embodiment, the GPR78- or GPR26-mediated disorder is a hyperproliferative disorder. In one embodiment, the hyperproliferative disorder is cancer. In one embodiment, the cancer is breast cancer or prostate cancer.

In one embodiment, the GPR78- or GPR26-mediated disorder is a hormone-mediated disorder. In one embodiment, the hormone-mediated disorder is menopause or pre-menopause, or any of the symptoms related to menopause or pre-menopause such as hot-flashes and bone loss.

In one embodiment, the GPR78- or GPR26-mediated disorder is a condition resulting in bone loss. In one embodiment, the condition resulting in bone loss is osteoporosis.

In one embodiment, the GPR78- or GPR26-mediated disorder is an inflammatory disorder. In one embodiment, the inflammatory disorder involves the digestive system.

In one embodiment, the GPR78- or GPR26-mediated disorder is a disorder of the digestive system.

In one embodiment, the GPR78- or GPR26-mediated disorder is a disorder of the urethra.

In one embodiment, the GPR78- or GPR26-mediated disorder is an angiogenesis-related disorder.

The invention also encompasses a method of modulating angiogenesis comprising administering to a subject in need thereof, an effective amount of pharmaceutical composition comprising a modulator of a GPR78 or GPR26 polypeptide. In one embodiment, the subject suffers from, or is at risk of developing, a hyperproliferative disorder, diabetic blindness, age-related macular degeneration, rheumatoid arthritis or psoriasis, and the modulator is an agonist of the GPR78 or GPR26 polypeptide. In one embodiment, the agonist of the GPR78 or GPR26 polypeptide is not genistein or daidzein. In one embodiment, the subject suffers from, or is at risk of developing, coronary artery disease, stroke or delayed wound healing, and wherein the modulator of the GPR78 or GPR26 polypeptide is an antagonist of the GPR78 or GPR26 polypeptide.

The invention also encompasses a method of modulating the activity of the GPR78 or GPR26 polypeptide comprising administering to a subject having or at risk of developing a GPR78- or GPR26-mediated disorder an effective amount of a composition comprising a modulator of a GPR78 or GPR26 polypeptide.

The invention also encompasses a method of modulating the activity of the GPR78 or GPR26 polypeptide comprising contacting a cell with a composition comprising a modulator of a GPR78 or GPR26 polypeptide.

The invention also encompasses a pharmaceutical composition comprising: (a) an agonist or antagonist of GPR78 or GPR26; and (b) a pharmaceutically acceptable carrier. In one embodiment, the agonist or antagonist of GPR78 or GPR26 is a small molecule that binds to GPR78 or GPR26. In one embodiment, the small molecule is genistein or an analog thereof. In one embodiment, the small molecule is daidzein or an analog thereof. In one embodiment, the small molecule is diphenyleneiodonium Cl or an analog thereof. In one embodiment, the small molecule is sanguinarine Cl or an analog thereof. In another embodiment, the agonist or antagonist of GPR78 or GPR26 is an antibody or antigen-binding fragment thereof that specifically binds to a GPR78 or GPR26 polypeptide and blocks the binding of GPR78 or GPR26 to its ligand.

The invention also encompasses a kit comprising: (a) a GPR78 polypeptide and a ligand for this polypeptide; (b) a GPR26 polypeptide and a ligand for this polypeptide; or (c) a GPR78 polypeptide, a GPR26 polypeptide and one or more ligands for these polypeptides. The invention also encompasses kits comprising: (a) a GPR78 polypeptide, a ligand for this polypeptide and an antagonist for this polypeptide; (b) a GPR26 polypeptide, a ligand for this polypeptide and an antagonist for this polypeptide; or (c) a GPR78 polypeptide, a GPR26 polypeptide, one or more ligands for these polypeptides, and one or more antagonists for these polypeptides.

In one embodiment of any of the kits described above, the ligand of the GPR78 or GPR26 polypeptide is an isoflavone or an analog thereof. In another embodiment, the ligand is a phytoestrogen or an analog thereof. In another embodiment, the ligand is genistein or an analog thereof. In another embodiment, the ligand is daidzein or an analog thereof. In another embodiment, the ligand is biochanin A or an analog thereof. In another embodiment, the ligand is formononetin or an analog thereof. In one embodiment, the antagonist of the GPR78 or GPR26 polypeptide is diphenyleneiodonium Cl or an analog thereof. In another embodiment, the antagonist of the GPR78 or GPR26 polypeptide is sanguinarine Cl or an analog thereof. In one embodiment, the kit comprises a cell expressing a GPR78 or GPR26 polypeptide. In one embodiment, the kit further comprises a container. In one embodiment, the kit further comprises instructions for use.

The invention also encompasses a knockout mouse whose genome comprises a disruption of the endogenous GPR26 gene, wherein the knockout mouse exhibits reduced anxiety. The invention also encompasses a knockout mouse whose genome comprises a disruption of the endogenous GPR26 gene, wherein the knockout mouse exhibits reduced metabolic activity.

In one embodiment of the knockout mouse described above, one of the alleles of the endogenous GPR26 gene has been inactivated. In another embodiment of the knockout mouse described above, both alleles of the endogenous GPR26 gene have been inactivated.

The invention further encompasses a descendant of any of the knockout mice described above, obtained by breeding with animals of the same or another genotype. The invention also encompasses a primary cell culture or a secondary cell line derived from any of the knockout mice described above. The invention also encompasses a tissue explant, a culture of a tissue explant, an organ explant, or a culture of an organ explant derived from any of the knockout mice described above. The invention also encompasses a tissue extract or a cell extract derived from any of the knockout mice described above.

Also within the scope of the present invention is a method of producing any of the knockout mice described above, comprising the step of replacing at least a portion of the GPR26 gene in an embryonic stem cell by homologous recombination with a DNA sequence comprising at least a portion of one exon of the GPR26 coding sequence. In one embodiment, the method further comprises the steps of: (a) providing a knockout construct for GPR26; (b) introducing the knockout construct into mouse embryonic stem cells; (c) selecting embryonic stem cells that have integrated the knockout construct by homologous recombination; (d) introducing the embryonic stem cells containing the knockout construct into mouse blastocysts; (e) transplanting the blastocysts into a pseudopregnant mouse; and (f) allowing the blastocysts to develop to a chimeric mouse to enable germline transmission of the disrupted GPR26 gene.

The invention also encompasses a method of screening a test agent for anxiolytic or anxiety-inducing activity, comprising the steps of: (a) administering the test agent to any of the knockout mice described above; (b) determining the effect of the test agent on the knockout mouse; and (c) relating the effect of the test agent on the knockout mouse to the anxiolytic or anxiety-inducing activity of said agent. In one embodiment, step (b) comprises comparing the knockout mouse to a second knockout mouse, e.g., a control knockout mouse, not administered the test agent.

The invention also encompasses a method of screening a test agent for metabolic activity, comprising the steps of: (a) administering the test agent to any of the knockout mice described above; (b) determining the effect of the test agent on the knockout mouse; and (c) relating the effect of the test agent on the knockout mouse to the metabolic activity of said agent. In one embodiment, wherein step (b) comprises comparing the knockout mouse to a second knockout mouse, e.g., a control knockout mouse, not administered the test agent.

Also within the scope of the present invention is the use of any of the knockout mice described above as a model for an anxiety disorder. The invention further encompasses the use of any of the knockout mice described above as a model for a metabolic disorder. In one embodiment, the metabolic disorder is obesity.

The invention also encompasses a method of determining whether an individual is susceptible to a metabolic disorder, comprising the steps of: (a) determining the level of expression of a GPR26 polypeptide in a sample isolated from the individual, and (b) determining, compared to a control, whether the individual from which the sample was isolated has or is susceptible to a metabolic disorder. In one embodiment, the metabolic disorder is obesity.

The invention also encompasses a method of determining whether an individual is susceptible to a metabolic disorder, comprising the steps of: (a) determining the level of biological activity of a GPR26 polypeptide in a sample isolated from the individual, and (b) determining, compared to a control, whether the individual from which the sample was isolated has or is susceptible to a metabolic disorder. In one embodiment, the metabolic disorder is obesity.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

As used herein, including the appended claims, the singular forms of words such as “a,” “an,” and “the” include their corresponding plural references unless the context clearly dictates otherwise.

All references cited herein are incorporated herein by reference to the same extent as if each individual publication, patent, or published patent application was specifically and individually indicated to be incorporated by reference.

GPR78 Polypeptides and GPR26 Polypeptides

As used herein, the term “GPR78 polypeptide” refers to the G protein-coupled receptor 78, and to variants and fragments of this receptor. In one embodiment, the GPR78 polypeptide comprises the amino acid sequence of SEQ ID NO: 1 (GenBank Accession No. NP543009) or a subsequence thereof.

As used herein, the term “GPR26 polypeptide” refers to the G protein-coupled receptor 26, and to variants and fragments of this receptor. In another embodiment, the GPR26 polypeptide comprises the amino acid sequence of SEQ ID NO: 3 (GenBank Accession No. NP703143) or a subsequence thereof.

Fragments of the GPR78 polypeptide or the GPR26 polypeptide preferably comprise at least about 4, 5, 6 or 7 (e.g., 8, 9, 10 or 11), preferably at least about 12 (e.g., 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18 or 19), more preferably at least about 20 (e.g., 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28 or 29), and most preferably at least about 30 (e.g., 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40, 50, 60, 70, 80, 90, 100, 124 or 136) or more contiguous amino acid residues. In one embodiment, fragments of the GPR78 polypeptide comprise at least about 4, 5, 6 or 7, preferably at least about 12, more preferably at least about 20, and most preferably at least about 30 or more contiguous amino acid residues from SEQ ID NO: 1 (GenBank Accession No. NP543009). In another embodiment, fragments of the GPR26 polypeptide comprise at least about 4, 5, 6 or 7, preferably at least about 12, more preferably at least about 20, and most preferably at least about 30 or more contiguous amino acid residues from SEQ ID NO: 3 (GenBank Accession No. NP703143). In some preferred embodiments, fragments of the GPR78 polypeptide substantially retain the ability to bind to a natural ligand of the GPR78 polypeptide; and fragments of the GPR26 polypeptide substantially retain the ability to bind to a natural ligand of the GPR26 polypeptide. In other embodiments, variants of the GPR78 polypeptide substantially retain the ability to activate the intracellular response initiated by the binding of a ligand to the GPR78 polypeptide; and variants of the GPR26 polypeptide substantially retain the ability to activate the intracellular response that initiated by the binding of a ligand to the GPR26 polypeptide.

“Variant(s)”, as the term is used herein, refers to polypeptides that differ from a reference polypeptide, but which retain one or more of the biological functions or activities of the reference polypeptides. In the one embodiment, the reference GPR78 polypeptide will comprise the amino acid sequence disclosed at SEQ ID NO: 1 (GenBank Accession No. NP543009). In another embodiment, the reference GPR26 polypeptide will comprise the amino acid sequence disclosed at SEQ ID NO: 3 (GenBank Accession No. NP703143). In some embodiments, variants of the GPR78 polypeptide substantially retain the ability to bind to a natural ligand of the GPR78 polypeptide. In other embodiments, variants of the GPR78 polypeptide substantially retain the ability to activate the intracellular response initiated by the binding of a ligand to the GPR78 polypeptide. In some embodiments variants of the GPR26 polypeptide substantially retain the ability to bind to a natural ligand of the GPR26 polypeptide. In other embodiments variants of the GPR26 polypeptide substantially retain the ability to activate the intracellular response that initiated by the binding of a ligand to the GPR26 polypeptide.

Variants of the GPR78 polypeptide or the GPR26 polypeptide include variants that are closely similar overall and, in many regions, identical to the reference polypeptides. For example, the variant and the reference polypeptides may differ in amino acid sequence by one or more amino acid substitutions, one or more amino acid additions, one or more amino acid deletions, or combinations of any of the above. Some amino acid substitutions are preferably “conservative”, with residues replaced with physically or chemically similar residues, such as Gly/Ala, Asp/Glu, Val/Ile/Leu, Lys/Arg, Asn/Gln and Phe/Trp/Tyr.

The variants of the GPR78 polypeptide or the GPR26 polypeptide also include variants in which one or more of the amino acid residues have been modified and/or include a substituent group. Modifications of amino acid residues may include but are not limited to aliphatic esters or amides of the carboxyl terminus or of residues containing carboxyl side chains, O-acyl derivatives of hydroxyl group-containing residues, and N-acyl derivatives of the amino-terminal amino acid or amino-group containing residues, e.g., lysine or arginine.

Other variants of the GPR78 polypeptide or the GPR26 polypeptides may contain modifications, such as incorporation of unnatural amino acid residues, or phosphorylated amino acid residues such as phosphotyrosine, phosphoserine or phosphothreonine residues. Other potential modifications include sulfonation, biotinylation, or the addition of other moieties, particularly those that have molecular shapes similar to phosphate groups.

Variants of the GPR78 polypeptide or the GPR26 polypeptide also include variants in which a GPR78 polypeptide, a GPR26 polypeptide, or a fragment of either one of these polypeptides is fused or joined to another polypeptide to create a chimeric polypeptide. In one embodiment a fragment of a GPR78 polypeptide or a fragment of a GPR26 polypeptide is fused to a fragment of another GPCR polypeptide, to create a chimeric GPCR protein. See, e.g., Gupte et al., Proc. Wad. Acad. Sci. USA 101(6):1508-13 (2004).)

Variants of the GPR78 polypeptide or the GPR26 polypeptide also include variants in which a GPR78 polypeptide, a GPR26 polypeptide, or a fragment of either one of these polypeptides, is fused with another compound, such as a compound that increases the half-life of the polypeptide (for example, polyethylene glycol).

Variants of the GPR78 polypeptide or the GPR26 polypeptide also include variants in which the GPR78 polypeptide, the GPR26 polypeptide, or a fragment of either one of these polypeptides, is fused to a leader or secretory sequence or a sequence which is employed for purification of the mature polypeptide or a pro-protein sequence.

In one embodiment, the variant of the GPR78 polypeptide will have at least 80% amino acid identity, preferably 85%, 90%, 95%, or higher, up to and including 100% identity, to a GPR78 polypeptide comprising the amino acid sequence of SEQ ID NO:1 or to a fragment thereof. In another embodiment, the polynucleotide encoding this variant polypeptide will have at least 80% nucleic acid identity, preferably 85%, 90%, 95%, or higher, up to and including 100% identity, to a polynucleotide comprising SEQ ID NO: 2 or to a fragment thereof. In another embodiment, the variant of the GPR78 polypeptide will have at least 50% amino acid homology (similarity), preferably at least 60%, 70%, 80%, 90%, 95%, or higher, up to and including 100% homology, a GPR78 polypeptide comprising the amino acid sequence of SEQ ID NO:1 or to a fragment thereof. In yet another embodiment, the polynucleotide encoding this variant polypeptide will have at least 50% nucleic acid homology, preferably 60%, 70%, 80%, 90%, 95%, or higher, up to and including 100% homology, to a polynucleotide comprising SEQ ID NO: 2 or to a fragment thereof.

In another embodiment, the variant of the GPR26 polypeptide will have at least 80% amino acid identity, preferably 85%, 90%, 95%, or higher, up to and including 100% identity, to a GPR26 polypeptide comprising the amino acid sequence of SEQ ID NO:3 or to a fragment thereof. In another embodiment, the polynucleotide encoding this variant polypeptide will have at least 80% nucleic acid identity, preferably 85%, 90%, 95%, or higher, up to and including 100% identity, to a polynucleotide comprising SEQ ID NO: 4 or to a fragment thereof. In another embodiment, the variant of the GPR26 polypeptide will have at least 50% amino acid homology (similarity), preferably 60%, 70%, 80%, 90%, 95%, or higher, up to and including 100% homology, to a GPR26 polypeptide comprising the amino acid sequence of SEQ ID NO:3 or to a fragment thereof. In yet another embodiment, the polynucleotide encoding this variant polypeptide will have at least 50% nucleic acid homology, preferably 60%, 70%, 80%, 90%, 95%, or higher, up to and including 100% homology, to a polynucleotide comprising SEQ ID NO: 4 or to a fragment thereof.

Sequence “identity” refers to exact matches between the nucleotides or amino acids of two sequences which are being compared.

Sequence “similarity” or “homology” refers to both exact matches between the amino acids of two polypeptides which are being compared in addition to matches between nonidentical, biochemically related amino acids. Biochemically related amino acids share similar properties and may be interchangeable. Amino acids with similar properties which may be interchangeable are well known in the art. For example, polar/hydrophilic amino acids which may be interchangeable include asparagine, glutamine, serine, cysteine, threonine, lysine, arginine, histidine, aspartic acid and glutamic acid; nonpolar/hydrophobic amino acids which may be interchangeable include glycine, alanine, valine, leucine, isoleucine, praline, tyrosine, phenylalanine, tryptophan and methionine; acidic amino acids which may be interchangeable include aspartic acid and glutamic acid and basic amino acids which may be interchangeable include histidine, lysine and arginine.

Sequence “identity” and “similarity” can be readily calculated by known methods, including but not limited to those described in (Computational Molecular Biology, Lesk, A. M., ed., Oxford University Press, New York, 1988; Biocomputing: Informatics and Genome Projects, Smith, D. W., ed., Academic Press, New York, 1993; Computer Analysis of Sequence Data, Part I, Griffin, A.M., and Griffin, H. G., eds., Humana Press, New Jersey, 1994; Sequence Analysis in Molecular Biology, von Heinje, G., Academic Press, 1987; and Sequence Analysis Primer, Gribskov, M. and Devereux, J., eds., M Stockton Press, New York, 1991; and Carillo, H., et al. (1988), SIAM J. Applied Math, 48:1073. Preferred methods to determine identity are designed to give the largest match between the sequences tested. Methods to determine identity and similarity are codified in publicly available computer programs. Preferred computer program methods to determine identity and similarity between two sequences include, but are not limited to, the GCG program package (Devereux, J., et al., (1984) Nucleic Acids Research 12 (1):387), BestFit, BLASTP, BLASTN, and FASTA (Altschul, S. F., et al., (1990) J. Mol. Biol. 215:403-410. The BLASTX program is publicly available from NCBI and other sources (BLAST Manual, Altschul, S., et al., NCBI NLM NIH Bethesda, Md. 20894; Altschul, S., et al., (1990) J. Mol. Biol. 215:403-410. The well-known Smith Waterman algorithm may also be used to determine identity.

Preferred parameters for polypeptide sequence comparison include the following: 1) Algorithm: Needleman and Wunsch, J. Mol. Biol. 48:443-453 (1970):

    • Comparison matrix: BLOSSUM62 from Hentikoff and Hentikoff, Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA. 89:10915-10919 (1992)
    • Gap Penalty: 12
    • Gap Length Penalty: 4

A program useful with these parameters is publicly available as the “GAP” program from Genetics Computer Group, located in Madison, Wis. The aforementioned parameters are the default parameters for peptide comparisons (along with no penalty for end gaps).

Preferred parameters for polynucleotide comparison include the following: 1) Algorithm: Needleman and Wunsch, J. Mol. Biol. 48:443-453 (1970):

Comparison matrix: matches=+10, mismatch=0

Gap Penalty: 50

Gap Length Penalty: 3

A program useful with these parameters is publicly available as the “GAP” program from Genetics Computer Group, located in Madison, Wis.

Variants of the GPR78 polypeptide or the GPR26 polypeptide also include polypeptides encoded by polynucleotides which hybridize to the polynucleotides encoding the reference polypeptides or to their complementary sequences. Thus, in one embodiment, a variant of the GPR78 polypeptide is encoded by a polynucleotide that hybridizes to the complement of SEQ ID NO: 2. In another embodiment, a variant of the GPR26 polypeptide is encoded by a polynucleotide that hybridizes to the complement of SEQ ID NO: 4. Preferably, the nucleic acids hybridize under low stringency conditions, more preferably under moderate stringency conditions and most preferably under high stringency conditions. A nucleic acid molecule is “hybridizable” to another nucleic acid molecule, such as a cDNA, genomic DNA, or RNA, when a single stranded form of the nucleic acid molecule can anneal to the other nucleic acid molecule under the appropriate conditions of temperature and solution ionic strength (see Sambrook, et al., Molecular Cloning: A Laboratory Manual). The conditions of temperature and ionic strength determine the “stringency” of the hybridization. Typical, low stringency, hybridization conditions may be 55° C., 5×SSC, 0.1% SDS, 0.25% milk, and no formamide; or 30% formamide, 5×SSC, 0.5% SDS. Typical, moderate stringency hybridization conditions are similar to the low stringency conditions except the hybridization is carried out in 40% formamide, with 5× or 6×SSC. High stringency hybridization conditions are similar to low stringency conditions except the hybridization conditions may be carried out in 50% formamide, 5× or 6×SSC and, optionally, at a higher temperature (e.g., 57° C., 59° C., 60° C., 62° C., 63° C., 65° C. or 68° C.). Typically, SSC is 0.15M NaCl and 0.015M Na-citrate. Hybridization requires that the two nucleic acids contain complementary sequences, although, depending on the stringency of the hybridization, mismatches between bases are possible. The appropriate stringency for hybridizing nucleic acids depends on the length of the nucleic acids and the degree of complementation, variables well known in the art. The greater the degree of similarity or homology between two nucleotide sequences, the higher the stringency under which the nucleic acids may hybridize. Typical, selective hybridization conditions occur when there is at least about 55% identity over a stretch of at least about 30 nucleotides, preferably at least about 65% over at least about 25 nucleotides, more preferably at least about 75% to about 95%, or more, over about 20 nucleotides or more. For hybrids of greater than 100 nucleotides in length, equations for calculating the melting temperature have been derived (see Sambrook, et al., supra). For hybridization with shorter nucleic acids, i.e., oligonucleotides, the position of mismatches becomes more important, and the length of the oligonucleotide determines its specificity (see Sambrook, et al., supra).

Typically, selective hybridization will occur when there is at least about 55% homology over a stretch of at least about 30 nucleotides, preferably at least about 65% over a stretch of at least about 25 nucleotides, more preferably at least about 75%, and most preferably at least about 90% over about 20 nucleotides. See, e.g., Kanehisa, Nucleic Acids Res. 12:203 (1984). The lengths of such homology comparisons may encompass longer stretches and in certain embodiments may cover a sequence of at least about 17, preferably at least about 25, more preferably at least about 50, and most preferably at least about 75 nucleotide residues.

An indication that two nucleic acid sequences of polypeptides are substantially identical is that the polypeptide encoded by the first nucleic acid is immunologically cross reactive with the polypeptide encoded by the second nucleic acid, as described below. Thus, a polypeptide is typically substantially identical to a second polypeptide, for example, where the two peptides differ only by conservative substitutions. Another indication that two nucleic acid sequences are substantially identical is that the two molecules hybridize to each other under stringent conditions, as described below.

Variants of the GPR78 polypeptide or the GPR26 polypeptide (or fragments of these polypeptides) may comprise various modifications resulting from the method of making the polypeptide. For polypeptides made by expressing a cloned gene in a host, for instance, the nature and extent of the modifications in large part will be determined by the host cell's post-translational modification capacity and the modification signals present in the polypeptide amino acid sequence. For instance, as is well known, glycosylation often does not occur in bacterial hosts such as E. coli. Accordingly, when glycosylation is desired, a polypeptide should be expressed in a glycosylating host, generally a eukaryotic cell. Insect cells often carry out the same post-translational glycosylations as mammalian cells do and, for this reason, insect cell expression systems have been developed to express efficiently mammalian proteins having the native patterns of glycosylation, inter alia. Similar considerations apply to other modifications.

Variants of the GPR78 polypeptide or the GPR26 polypeptide (or fragments of these polypeptides) include glycosylation variants. Glycosylation variants include, e.g., analogs made by modifying glycosylation patterns during synthesis and processing in various alternative eukaryotic host expression systems, or during further processing steps. Particularly preferred methods for producing glycosylation modifications include exposing the GPR78 polypeptide or the GPR26 polypeptide to glycosylating enzymes derived from cells that normally carry out such processing, such as mammalian glycosylation enzymes. Alternatively, deglycosylation enzymes can be used to remove carbohydrates attached during production in eukaryotic expression systems.

Variants of the GPR78 polypeptide or the GPR26 polypeptide may or may not occur naturally.

Variants of the GPR78 polypeptide or the GPR26 polypeptide can be prepared by chemical synthesis or by using site-directed mutagenesis (Gillman et al., Gene 8:81 (1979); Roberts et al., Nature, 328:731 (1987) or Innis (Ed.), 1990, PCR Protocols: A Guide to Methods and Applications, Academic Press, New York, N.Y.) or the polymerase chain reaction method (PCR) (Saiki et al., Science 239:487 (1988)), as exemplified by Daugherty et al. (Nucleic Acids Res. 19:2471 (1991) to modify nucleic acids encoding the complete receptors. Adding epitope tags for purification or detection of recombinant products is envisioned.

General techniques for nucleic acid manipulation and expression that can be used to make the variants discussed above are described generally, e.g., in Sambrook, et al., Molecular Cloning: A Laboratory Manual (2d ed.), 1989, Vols. 1-3, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory. Techniques for the synthesis of polypeptides are described, for example, in Merrifield, J. Amer. Chem. Soc. 85:2149 (1963); Merrifield, Science 232:341 (1986); and Atherton et al., Solid Phase Peptide Synthesis: A Practical Approach, 1989, IRL Press, Oxford.

Still other variants of the GPR78 polypeptide or GPR26 polypeptide are prepared by the use of agents known in the art for their usefulness in cross-linking proteins through reactive side groups. Preferred derivatization sites with cross-linking agents are free amino groups, carbohydrate moieties and cysteine residues.

Nucleic Acids and Expression Vectors

The terms “oligonucleotide”, “polynucleotide”, “DNA” and “nucleic acid” are used interchangeably in this application.

As used herein, the term “isolated nucleic acid” means a nucleic acid such as an RNA or DNA molecule, or a mixed polymer, which is substantially separated from other components that are normally found in cells or in recombinant DNA expression systems. These components include but are not limited to ribosomes, polymerases, serum components, and flanking genomic sequences. The term thus embraces a nucleic acid that has been removed from its naturally occurring environment, and includes recombinant or cloned DNA isolates and chemically synthesized analogs or analogs biologically synthesized by heterologous systems. A substantially pure molecule includes isolated forms of the molecule.

An isolated nucleic acid will generally be a homogeneous composition of molecules but may, in some embodiments, contain minor heterogeneity. Such heterogeneity is typically found at the ends of nucleic acid coding sequences or in regions not critical to a desired biological function or activity.

A “recombinant nucleic acid” is defined either by its method of production or structure. Some recombinant nucleic acids are thus made by the use of recombinant DNA techniques which involve human intervention, either in manipulation or selection. Others are made by fusing two fragments that are not naturally contiguous to each other. Engineered vectors are encompassed, as well as nucleic acids comprising sequences derived using any synthetic oligonucleotide process.

This invention further encompasses recombinant DNA molecules and fragments having sequences that are identical or highly homologous to those described herein. The nucleic acids of the invention may be operably linked to DNA segments that control transcription, translation, and DNA replication.

Nucleic acids encoding the GPR78 polypeptide or the GPR26 polypeptide (or fragments of these polypeptides) can be prepared by standard methods. For example, DNA can be chemically synthesized using, e.g., the phosphoramidite solid support method of Matteucci et al. (J. Am. Chem. Soc. 103:3185 (1981)), the method of Yoo et al. (J. Biol. Chem. 764:17078 (1989)), or other well known methods. This can be done by sequentially linking a series of oligonucleotide cassettes comprising pairs of synthetic oligonucleotides, as described below.

Of course, due to the degeneracy of the genetic code, many different nucleotide sequences can encode the GPR78 polypeptide or the GPR26 polypeptide (or fragments of these polypeptides). The codons can be selected for optimal expression in prokaryotic or eukaryotic systems. Such degenerate variants are of course also encompassed by this invention.

Moreover, nucleic acids encoding the GPR78 polypeptide or the GPR26 polypeptide (or fragments of these polypeptides) can readily be modified by nucleotide substitutions, nucleotide deletions, nucleotide insertions, and inversions of nucleotide stretches. Such modifications result in novel DNA sequences that encode antigens having immunogenic or antigenic activity in common with the wild-type receptors. These modified sequences can be used to produce wild type or mutant receptors, or to enhance expression in a recombinant DNA system.

Insertion of the DNAs encoding the GPR78 polypeptide or the GPR26 polypeptide (or fragments of these polypeptides) into a vector is easily accomplished when the termini of both the DNAs and the vector comprise compatible restriction sites. If this cannot be done, it may be necessary to modify the of the DNAs and/or vector by digesting back single-stranded DNA overhangs generated by restriction endonuclease cleavage to produce blunt ends, or to achieve the same result by filling in the single-stranded termini with an appropriate DNA polymerase.

Alternatively, desired sites may be produced, e.g., by ligating nucleotide sequences (linkers) onto the termini. Such linkers may comprise specific oligonucleotide sequences that define desired restriction sites. Restriction sites can also be generated by the use of the polymerase chain reaction (PCR). See, e.g., Saiki et al., Science 239:487 (1988). The cleaved vector and the DNA fragments may also be modified if required by homopolymeric tailing.

Recombinant expression vectors used in this invention are typically self-replicating DNA or RNA constructs comprising nucleic acids encoding the GPR78 polypeptide or the GPR26 polypeptide (or fragments of these polypeptides), usually operably linked to suitable genetic control elements that are capable of regulating expression of the nucleic acids in compatible host cells. Genetic control elements may include a prokaryotic promoter system or a eukaryotic promoter expression control system, and typically include a transcriptional promoter, an optional operator to control the onset of transcription, transcription enhancers to elevate the level of mRNA expression, a sequence that encodes a suitable ribosome binding site, and sequences that terminate transcription and translation. Expression vectors also may contain an origin of replication that allows the vector to replicate independently of the host cell.

Vectors that could be used in this invention include microbial plasmids, viruses, bacteriophage, integratable DNA fragments, and other vehicles that may facilitate integration of the nucleic acids into the genome of the host. Plasmids are the most commonly used form of vector but all other forms of vectors which serve an equivalent function and which are, or become, known in the art are suitable for use herein. See, e.g., Pouwels et al., Cloning Vectors: A Laboratory Manual, 1985 and Supplements, Elsevier, N.Y., and Rodriguez et al. (eds.), Vectors: A Survey of Molecular Cloning Vectors and Their Uses, 1988, Buttersworth, Boston, Mass.

Expression of nucleic acids encoding the GPR78 polypeptide or the GPR26 polypeptide (or fragments of these polypeptides) can be carried out by conventional methods in either prokaryotic or eukaryotic cells. Although strains of E. coli are employed most frequently in prokaryotic systems, many other bacteria such as various strains of Pseudomonas and Bacillus are know in the art and can be used as well.

Prokaryotic expression control sequences typically used include promoters, including those derived from the B-lactamase and lactose promoter systems (Chang et al., Nature, 198:1056 (1977)), the tryptophan (tip) promoter system (Goeddel et al., Nucleic Acids Res. 8:4057 (1980)), the lambda PL promoter system (Shimatake et al., Nature, 292:128 (1981)) and the tac promoter (De Boer et al., Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 292:128 (1983)). Numerous expression vectors containing such control sequences are known in the art and available commercially.

Suitable host cells for expressing nucleic acids encoding the GPR78 polypeptide or the GPR26 polypeptide (or fragments of these polypeptides) include prokaryotes and higher eukaryotes. Prokaryotes include both gram negative and positive organisms, e.g., E. coli and B. subtilis. Higher eukaryotes include established tissue culture cell lines from animal cells, both of non-mammalian origin, e.g., insect cells, and birds, and of mammalian origin, e.g., human, primates, and rodents.

Prokaryotic host-vector systems include a wide variety of vectors for many different species. As used herein, E. coli and its vectors will be used generically to include equivalent vectors used in other prokaryotes. A representative vector for amplifying DNA is pBR322 or many of its derivatives. Vectors that can be used to express the GPR78 polypeptide or the GPR26 polypeptide (or fragments of these polypeptides) include but are not limited to those containing the lac promoter (pUC-series); trp promoter (pBR322-trp); Ipp promoter (the pIN-series); lambda-pP or pR promoters (pOTS); or hybrid promoters such as ptac (pDR540). See Brosius et al., “Expression Vectors Employing Lambda-, trp-, lac-, and Ipp-derived Promoters”, in Rodriguez and Denhardt (eds.) Vectors: A Survey of Molecular Cloning Vectors and Their Uses, 1988, Buttersworth, Boston, pp. 205-236.

Higher eukaryotic tissue culture cells are preferred hosts for the recombinant production of the GPR78 polypeptide or the GPR26 polypeptide (or fragments of these polypeptides). Although any higher eukaryotic tissue culture cell line might be used, including insect baculovirus expression systems, mammalian cells are preferred. Transformation or transfection and propagation of such cells have become a routine procedure. Examples of useful cell lines include HeLa cells, HEK293 cells (human embryonic kidney 293 cell line), Chinese hamster ovary (CHO) cell lines, baby rat kidney (BRK) cell lines, insect cell lines, bird cell lines, and monkey (COS) cell lines.

Expression vectors for such cell lines usually include an origin of replication, a promoter, a translation initiation site, RNA splice sites (if genomic DNA is used), a polyadenylation site, and a transcription termination site. These vectors also usually contain a selection gene or amplification gene. Suitable expression vectors may be plasmids, viruses, or retroviruses carrying promoters derived, e.g., from such sources as adenovirus, SV40, parvoviruses, vaccinia virus, or cytomegalovirus. Representative examples of suitable expression vectors include pCR.RTM.3.1, pcDNA1, pCD (Okayama et al., Mol. Cell. Biol. 5:1136 (1985)), pMClneo Poly-A (Thomas et al., Cell 51:503 (1987)), pUC19, pREP8, pSVSPORT and derivatives thereof, and baculovirus vectors such as pAC 373 or pAC 610.

Protein Purification

The proteins and polypeptides of this invention can be purified by standard methods, including but not limited to salt or alcohol precipitation, preparative disc-gel electrophoresis, isoelectric focusing, high pressure liquid chromatography (HPLC), reversed-phase HPLC, gel filtration, cation and anion exchange and partition chromatography, and countercurrent distribution. Such purification methods are well known in the art and are disclosed, e.g., in Guide to Protein Purification, Methods in Enzymology, Vol. 182, M. Deutscher, Ed., 1990, Academic Press, New York, N.Y.

Purification steps can be followed by carrying out assays for ligand binding activity as described below. Particularly where a receptor is being isolated from a cellular or tissue source, it is preferable to include one or more inhibitors of proteolytic enzymes is the assay system, such as phenylmethanesulfonyl fluoride (PMSF).

Screening Methods

The GPR78 polypeptide, the GPR26 polypeptide, or fragments of the GPR78 or GPR26 polypeptide can be employed in screening assays to identify modulators (agonists and antagonists) of the GPR78 polypeptide or GPR26 polypeptide.

As used herein, a “modulator” refers to a natural ligand, an agonist or an antagonist of a receptor.

As used herein, an “agonist” refers to an agent that binds to a receptor and triggers a response that mimics the action of the natural ligand on the receptor. An agonist may be an antibody, or an antigen-binding fragment thereof, that binds to a receptor and triggers a response that mimics the action of the natural ligand on the receptor. An agonist may be a also be small molecule.

As used herein, an “antagonist” refers to an agent that binds to the receptor and blocks or inhibits the response induced by the action of the natural ligand on the receptor. (The blocking or inhibition of the response induced by the action of the natural ligand on the receptor may be total or partial.) An antagonist may be an antibody, or an antigen-binding fragment thereof, that binds to a receptor and blocks or inhibits the response induced by the action of the natural ligand on the receptor. An antagonist may be a also be small molecule.

As used herein, a “ligand” refers to an agent that is capable of associating or binding to a receptor. For example, as disclosed herein, genistein and daidzein are ligands of the GPR78 and GPR26 polypeptides.

As used herein, an “analog” refers to a chemical with a similar structure to another chemical but differing slightly in composition (as in the replacement of one atom by an atom of a different element or the presence of a particular functional group). Analogs according to the invention share similar biologic functions.

In one embodiment, the modulator may be an agonist of the GPR78 polypeptide, an agonist of the GPR26 polypeptide, or an agonist of both the GPR78 polypeptide and the GPR26 polypeptide. In another embodiment, the modulator may be an antagonist of the GPR78 polypeptide, an antagonist of the GPR26 polypeptide, or an antagonist of both the GPR78 polypeptide and the GPR26 polypeptide

Generally, the invention comprises methods for bringing together a GPR78 polypeptide or GPR26 polypeptide (including fragments and variants thereof), an appropriate ligand (or an analogue thereof), and a sample to be tested for the presence of a modulator of the GPR78 polypeptide or the GPR26 polypeptide. In one embodiment, the ligand is an isoflavone or an analog thereof. In one embodiment, the ligand is a phytoestrogen or an analog thereof. In another embodiment, the ligand is genistein or an analog thereof. In another embodiment, the ligand is daidzein or an analog thereof. In another embodiment, the ligand is biochanin A or an analog thereof. In another embodiment, the ligand is formononetin or an analog thereof.

In one embodiment, the GPR78 polypeptide or the GPR26 polypeptide (or a fragment of either one of these polypeptides) to be used in the screening methods is in soluble form. In another embodiment, the GPR78 polypeptide or the GPR26 polypeptide (or a fragment of either one of these polypeptides) to be used in the screening methods is substantially purified. In another embodiment, the GPR78 polypeptide or the GPR26 polypeptide to be used in the screening methods is: on the surface of a mammalian cell, on a cell membrane preparation, on a lipid vesicle, or immobilized to a solid surface.

As used herein, the term “substantially pure” or “substantially purified” refers to a polypeptide, nucleic acid or other material that is substantially free from other contaminating proteins, nucleic acids, and other biologicals derived from an original source organism or recombinant DNA expression system. Purity may be assayed by standard methods and will typically exceed at least about 50%, preferably at least about 75%, more preferably at least about 90%, and most preferably at least about 95% purity. Purity evaluation may be made on a mass or molar basis.

In one embodiment, the test sample comprises any agent. As used herein, an “agent” refers to any molecule including, for example, a polypeptide, an antibody or antigen binding fragment thereof, a nucleic acid (e.g., an antisense, ribozyme, siRNA or the like) or a small molecule. In one embodiment, the agent is selected from the group consisting of: a peptide, a polypeptide, an antibody or antigen-biding fragment thereof, a lipid, a carbohydrate, a nucleic acid, and a small organic molecule.

Preferably, the GPR78 polypeptide or fragment comprises the amino acid sequence of SEQ ID NO: 1 (GenBank Accession No. NP543009) or a subsequence thereof; or in encoded by a polynucleotide comprising SEQ ID NO: 2 (GenBank Accession No. NM08019) or a subsequence thereof.

Preferably, the GPR26 polypeptide or fragment thereof comprises the amino acid sequence of SEQ ID NO: 3 (GenBank Accession No. NP703143) or a subsequence thereof; or in encoded by a polynucleotide comprising SEQ ID NO: 4 (GenBank Accession No. NM153442) or a subsequence thereof.

Two basic types of screening systems can be used: binding assays or functional assays. Binding assays may involve the use of a labeled ligand. Ligands may be labeled using any known methods and any known labels.

Binding Assays

Typically for binding assays, a given amount of a GPR78 polypeptide or GPR26 polypeptide (or a fragment of either one of these polypeptides) is contacted with increasing amounts of a ligand, and the amount of the bound ligand is measured after removing unbound labeled ligand by washing. As the amount of the ligand is increased, a point is eventually reached at which all receptor binding sites are occupied or saturated. In a preferred embodiment, the ligand is labeled. When the ligand is labeled, specific receptor binding of the labeled ligand is abolished by a large excess of unlabeled ligand.

Preferably, an assay system is used in which non-specific binding of the labeled ligand to the receptor is minimal. Non-specific binding is typically less than 50%, preferably less than 15%, and more preferably less than 10% of the total binding of the labeled ligand.

In principle, a binding assay of the invention could be carried out using a soluble receptor of the invention, e.g., following production and refolding by standard methods from an E. coli expression system, and the resulting receptor-labeled ligand complex could be precipitated, e.g., using an antibody against the receptor. The precipitate could then be washed and the amount of the bound labeled ligand could be measured.

Preferably, however, a nucleic acid encoding a GPR78 polypeptide or GPR26 polypeptide is transfected into an appropriate host cell, whereby the receptor will become incorporated into the membrane of the cell. The transfected cell, or a membrane fraction thereof, can be used as a source of the receptor for assay. Preferably, specific binding of the labeled ligand to a membrane fraction from the untransfected host cell will be negligible.

The binding assays of this invention can be used to identify both GPR78 polypeptide and GPR26 polypeptide agonists and antagonists, because both agonists and antagonists of a receptor will compete for binding to the receptor with the ligand.

In the basic binding assay, the method for identifying a modulator of a GPR78 polypeptide or GPR26 polypeptide (either a modulator or antagonist) comprises: (a) contacting a GPR78 or GPR26 polypeptide or a fragment thereof with a ligand of the GPR78 or GPR26 polypeptide in the presence and absence of a test sample, under conditions permitting the binding of the ligand to the GPR78 or GPR26 polypeptide; and (b) measuring the amount of the ligand that is bound to the GPR78 or GPR26 polypeptide, wherein a modulator of the GPR78 or GPR26 polypeptide in the test sample is identified by measuring a change in binding of the ligand to the GPR78 or GPR26 polypeptide in the presence and absence of the test sample. In one embodiment, the ligand is labeled and the binding of the ligand to the GPR78 or GPR26 polypeptide is measured by detecting the label. The ligand may be labeled with any label, for example, the label may be a radioisotope, a fluorophore, a quencher of fluorescence, an enzyme, a dye, a luminophore, an affinity tag, or any other suitable label. In one embodiment, the ligand is an isoflavone or an analog thereof. In one embodiment, the ligand is a phytoestrogen or an analog thereof. In another embodiment, the ligand is genistein or an analog thereof. In another embodiment, the ligand is daidzein or an analog thereof. In another embodiment, the ligand is biochanin A or an analog thereof. In another embodiment, the ligand is formononetin or an analog thereof.

As used herein, the terms “change”, “difference”, “decrease” or “increase”, as applied to e.g., binding, biological function or signaling activity, refer to at least 10% increase or decrease in binding or activity in a given assay.

The amount of ligand that is bound to the GPR78 polypeptide or the GPR26 polypeptide may be measured using any method known in the art. For example, binding or displacement of binding can be monitored by surface plasmon resonance, fluorescence resonance energy transfer (FRET), fluorescence polarization, biosensor assays, or any other method. In one embodiment, a decrease of at least 10% in the amount of the labeled ligand bound in the presence of the test sample indicates the presence of a modulator in the test sample. In another embodiment, a decrease of at least 20% in the amount of the labeled ligand bound in the presence of the test sample indicates the presence of a modulator in the test sample. In other embodiments, a decrease of at least 30% in the amount of the labeled ligand bound in the presence of the test sample indicates the presence of a modulator in the test sample.

Determination of whether a particular molecule inhibiting binding of the ligand to the receptor is an antagonist or a modulator can be determined in a second, functional assay.

Functional Assays

The invention comprises various functional assays for identifying modulators of a GPR78 polypeptide or a GPR26 polypeptide. Functional assays may also be used to determine whether an agent that binds the GPR78 or GPR26 polypeptide is an agonist or an antagonist of the GPR78 or GPR26 polypeptide.

In one embodiment, the invention comprises a method for identifying a modulator of a GPR78 or GPR26 polypeptide, comprising: (a) contacting a GPR78 or GPR26 polypeptide or a fragment thereof with a ligand of the GPR78 or GPR26 polypeptide in the presence and absence of a test sample; and (b) measuring the activity of the GPR78 or GPR26 polypeptide, wherein a modulator of the GPR78 or GPR26 polypeptide in the test sample is identified by measuring a change in the activity of the GPR78 or GPR26 polypeptide in the presence and absence of the test sample.

In another embodiment, the invention comprises a method for identifying a modulator of a GPR78 or GPR26 polypeptide, comprising: (a) contacting a GPR78 or GPR26 polypeptide or a fragment thereof with a test sample in the presence and absence of a ligand of the GPR78 or GPR26 polypeptide; and (b) measuring the activity of the GPR78 or GPR26 polypeptide, wherein a modulator of the GPR78 or GPR26 polypeptide in the test sample is identified by measuring a change in the activity of the GPR78 or GPR26 polypeptide in the presence and absence of the known ligand.

In another embodiment, the invention comprises a method for identifying a modulator of a GPR78 or GPR26 polypeptide, comprising: (a) contacting a GPR78 or GPR26 polypeptide or a fragment thereof with a test sample; and (b) measuring the activity of the GPR78 or GPR26 polypeptide, wherein a modulator of the GPR78 or GPR26 polypeptide in the test sample is identified by comparing the activity of the GPR78 or GPR26 polypeptide in the presence of the test sample to a standard value, wherein the standard value is based on the activity of the GPR78 or GPR26 polypeptide in the presence of a ligand of the GPR78 or GPR26 polypeptide.

In any of the above mentioned methods, an increase in the activity of the GPR78 or GPR26 polypeptide in the presence of the test sample indicates the presence of an agonist of the GPR78 or GPR26 polypeptide in the test sample. In one embodiment, a decrease of at least 10% in the activity of the GPR78 or GPR26 polypeptide in the presence of the test sample indicates the presence of an agonist in the test sample. In another embodiment, a decrease of at least 20% in the presence of the test sample indicates the presence of an agonist in the test sample. In other embodiments, a decrease of at least 30% in the presence of the test sample indicates the presence of an agonist in the test sample.

In any of the above mentioned methods, a decrease in the activity of the GPR78 or GPR26 polypeptide in the presence of the test sample indicates the presence of an antagonist of the GPR78 or GPR26 polypeptide in the test sample. In one embodiment, an increase of at least 10% in the activity of the GPR78 or GPR26 polypeptide in the presence of the test sample indicates the presence of an antagonist in the test sample. In another embodiment, an increase of at least 20% in the presence of the test sample indicates the presence of an antagonist in the test sample. In other embodiments, an increase of at least 30% in the presence of the test sample indicates the presence of an antagonist in the test sample.

In any of the above mentioned methods, the ligand of the GPR78 or GPR26 polypeptide may be an isoflavone or an analog thereof, or a phytoestrogen or an analog thereof. In another embodiment, the ligand is genistein or an analog thereof. In another embodiment, the ligand is daidzein or an analog thereof. In another embodiment, the ligand is biochanin A or an analog thereof. In another embodiment, the ligand is formononetin or an analog thereof.

Skilled workers are aware of a variety of approaches that could be used for measuring the activity of GPCR polypeptide. Any of these approaches could be used in the claimed methods.

For example, the activity of the GPR78 polypeptide or the GPR26 polypeptide may be measured by measuring any of the intracellular activities mediated by the GPR78 polypeptide or GPR26 polypeptide. Such parameters include but are not limited to intracellular second messenger pathways activated by the GPR78 polypeptide or GPR26 polypeptide, changes in cell growth rate, secretion of hormones, etc., using published methods.

In one embodiment, the activity of the GPR78 polypeptide or GPR26 polypeptide may be detected by measuring the signaling activity of the GPR78 or GPR26 polypeptide. The signaling activity of the GPR78 or GPR26 polypeptide may be measured by detecting a change in the level of a second messenger. As used herein, the term “second messenger” refers to a molecule, generated or caused to vary in concentration by the activation of a G-Protein Coupled Receptor (GPCR), that participates in the transduction of a signal from that GPCR. Non-limiting examples of second messengers include cAMP, diacylglycerol, inositol triphosphate, arachidonic acid release, inositol triphosphates and intracellular calcium. The term “change in the level of a second messenger” refers to an increase or decrease of at least 10% in the detected level of a given second messenger relative to the amount detected in an assay performed in the absence of a test sample.

Thus, for example, the activity of the GPR78 or GPR26 polypeptide may be detected by measuring: the effects of the ligands on receptor-mediated inhibition of forskolin-stimulated intracellular cAMP production (Parker et al., Mol Brain Res, 34:179-189 (1995)), receptor-stimulated Ca++ mobilization and mitogenic effects (Sethi et al., Cancer Res. 51:1674-1679 (1991)), inositol phosphate production and mitogen activated protein kinase (MAP kinase) induction (Wang et al., Biochemistry 37:6711-17 (1998)) and receptor-mediated glucose-stimulated insulin release (Yanaihara et al., Regulatory Peptides 46:93-101 (1993)).

In one embodiment, the activity of the GPR78 or GPR26 polypeptide is measured by measuring a change in level of a cAMP. A change in the level of cAMP may be measured using any method known in the art. A number of kits for directly or indirectly measuring cAMP are commercially available. In one embodiment, the change in the level of cAMP is measured using a luciferase reporting system. In another embodiment, the change in the level of cAMP is measured using an adenylyl cyclase kit, such as the FlashPlate™ Adenylyl Cyclase kit from New England Nuclear (Cat. No. SMP004A).

Calcium mobilization in cells expressing the GPR78 polypeptide or the GPR26 polypeptide can be determined using a Fluorometric Imaging Plate Reader (FLIPR) assay, for example, as described in Zhang, et al., (2001) J. of Biol. Chem. 276(11):8608-8615. In general, the FLIPR assay includes the steps of: (a) contacting a cell (e.g., HEK293 cell or CHO cell) expressing the GPR78 polypeptide or the GPR26 polypeptide or a fragment thereof, in the presence of a known ligand with a test sample; and (b) measuring calcium mobilization by the cell. Calcium mobilization can be measured by exposing the cell to a calcium indicator such as Fluor-3-Am (Molecular Probes; Eugene, O R; 1-[2-Amino-5-(2,7-dichloro-6-hydroxy-3-oxy-9-xanthenyl) phenoxy]-2-(2′-amino-5′-methylphenoxy)ethane-N,N,N′,N′-tetraacetic acid, pentaacetoxymethyl ester). In the presence of Ca2+, the indicator fluoresces. The fluorescence can be detected by analyzing the cells, for example, with a fluorometric imaging plate reader. The sample can be identified as containing an antagonist by measuring substantially reduced calcium mobilization, compared to what would be measured in the absence of the sample and the sample can be identified as containing a modulator by measuring substantially increased calcium mobilization, compared to what would be measured in the absence of the sample. In one embodiment, the GPR78 or GPR26 polypeptide used in the calcium mobilization assay is a chimeric GPCR polypeptide.

In one embodiment, the activity of the GPR78 polypeptide or GPR26 polypeptide may be measured by measuring the binding of GTP by cell membranes containing receptors. The non-hydrolyzable GTP analog, [35S]GTPγS, can be utilized to demonstrate enhanced binding of [35S]GTPγS to membranes expressing activated receptors.

In another embodiment, the activity of the GPR78 or GPR26 polypeptide may be measured using a chimeric G protein. Exemplary methods are described in Kostenis et al., Trends Pharmacol. Sci. 26(11):595-602 (2005); New et al., Assay Drug Dev. Technol. 2( )3):269-80 (2004).

As mentioned above, a variety of approaches are available for measuring the activity of GPRC polypeptides. The methods recited herein are illustrative; those of ordinary skill in the art are credited with the ability to determine other suitable techniques.

Uses of Modulators of GPR78 and/or GPR26

In one embodiment, the invention comprises a method of modulating the activity of the GPR78 or GPR26 polypeptide comprising contacting a cell with a composition comprising a modulator of a GPR78 or GPR26 polypeptide.

In another embodiment, the invention comprises a method of modulating the activity of the GPR78 or GPR26 polypeptide comprising administering to a subject having or at risk of developing a GPR78- or GPR26-mediated disorder an effective amount of a composition comprising a modulator of a GPR78 or GPR26 polypeptide.

Modulators of GPR78 and/or GPR26 may be used to treat any GPR78- or GPR26-mediated disorders. In another embodiment, the invention comprises a method of treating a GPR78- or GPR26-mediated disorder, comprising administering to a subject in need thereof, an effective amount of composition comprising a modulator of a GPR78 or GPR26 polypeptide. As used herein, a “GPR78-mediated disorder” refers to any disease, disorder or condition that is dependent, mediated, regulated, or responsive, directly or indirectly, to the level of expression or activity of the GPR78 polypeptide. As used herein, a “GPR26-mediated disorder” refers to any disease, disorder or condition that is dependent, mediated, regulated, or responsive, directly or indirectly, to the level of expression or activity of the GPR26 polypeptide. As used herein, a “GPR78- or GPR26-mediated disorder” refers to either a GPR78-mediated disorder or a GPR26-mediated disorder.

Exemplary GPR78- or GPR26-mediated disorders include, without limitation, neurological disorders (such as anxiety disorders, including generalized anxiety disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorders (OCD), panic disorders, post-traumatic stress disorders (PTSD) and social phobias (also referred to as social anxiety disorders); bipolar affective disorder; schizophrenia; and Alzheimer's disease), cardiovascular disorders (such as coronary heart disease, arteriosclerosis, angina, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart attack, stroke and arrhythmia), hyperproliferative disorders (such as cancer, including, but not limited to, breast cancer and prostate cancer), metabolic disorders (such as obesity, diabetes, hypercholesterolemia, hyperlipidemia, dyslipidemia, hypertriglyceridemia, hyperglycemia, hypertension, insulin resistance and hyperinsulinemia), hormone-related conditions (such as menopause or pre-menopause, including any of the symptoms related to menopause or pre-menopause such as hot-flashes and bone loss), conditions resulting in bone loss (such as osteoporosis), diabetes, angiogenesis-related disorders, and urologic conditions.

As used herein, to “treat” refers to alleviating, preventing or delaying a particular disorder, disease or condition.

The term “subject” or “patient” refers to any organism, preferably an animal, more preferably a mammal (e.g., mouse, rat, rabbit, cow, dog, cat, cow, chimpanzee, gorilla) and most preferably a human.

In one embodiment, the modulator of GPR78 and/or GPR26 is an agonist of the GPR78 and/or GPR26 polypeptide. In one embodiment, the agonist of the GPR78 and/or GPR26 polypeptide is an isoflavone or an analog thereof, or a phytoestrogen or an analog thereto. In one embodiment, the agonist of the GPR78 and/or GPR26 polypeptide is genistein or an analog thereof. In one embodiment, the agonist of the GPR78 and/or GPR26 polypeptide is daidzein or an analog thereof. In one embodiment, the agonist of the GPR78 and/or GPR26 polypeptide is biochanin or an analog thereof. In one embodiment, the agonist of the GPR78 and/or GPR26 polypeptide is formononetin or an analog thereof. In another embodiment, the agonist of the GPR78 or GPR26 polypeptide is not isoflavone or an analog thereof. In another embodiment, the agonist of the GPR78 or GPR26 polypeptide is not genistein or an analog thereof. In one embodiment, the agonist of the GPR78 and/or GPR26 polypeptide is an antibody, or an antigen-binding fragment thereof, that binds to the receptor and triggers a response that mimics the action of the natural ligand on the receptor.

In another embodiment, the modulator of GPR78 and/or GPR26 is an antagonist of the GPR78 or GPR26 polypeptide. In one embodiment, the antagonist of the GPR78 and/or GPR26 polypeptide is diphenyleneiodonium Cl or an analog thereof. In one embodiment, the antagonist of the GPR78 and/or GPR26 polypeptide is sanguinarine Cl or an analog thereof. In one embodiment, the antagonist of the GPR78 polypeptide is an antibody, or antigen-binding fragment thereof, that binds to the GPR78 polypeptide and blocks or inhibits the response induced by the action of the natural ligand on the receptor. In another embodiment, the antagonist of the GPR78 polypeptide is an antisense molecule that acts on a nucleic acid encoding the GPR78 polypeptide. In one embodiment, the antagonist of the GPR26 polypeptide is an antibody, or antigen-binding fragment thereof, that binds to the GPR26 polypeptide and blocks or inhibits the response induced by the action of the natural ligand on the receptor. In another embodiment, the antagonist of the GPR26 polypeptide is an antisense molecule that acts on a nucleic acid encoding the GPR26 polypeptide.

In one embodiment, the invention provides a method to treat a neurological disorder comprising administering to a subject in need thereof a therapeutically effective amount of a composition comprising a modulator of the GPR78 or GPR26 polypeptide.

In one embodiment, the invention provides a method to treat an anxiety disorder comprising administering to a subject in need thereof a therapeutically effective amount of a composition comprising a modulator of the GPR78 or GPR26 polypeptide.

In one embodiment, the invention provides a method to treat a metabolic disorder comprising administering to a subject in need thereof a therapeutically effective amount of a composition comprising a modulator of the GPR78 or GPR26 polypeptide.

In one embodiment, the invention provides a method to treat a cardiovascular disorder comprising administering to a subject in need thereof a therapeutically effective amount of a composition comprising a modulator of the GPR78 or GPR26 polypeptide.

In one embodiment, the invention provides a method to treat a hyperproliferative disorder comprising administering to a subject in need thereof a therapeutically effective amount of a composition comprising a modulator of the GPR78 or GPR26 polypeptide.

In one embodiment, the invention provides a method to treat a hormone-related condition comprising administering to a subject in need thereof a therapeutically effective amount of a composition comprising a modulator of the GPR78 or GPR26 polypeptide.

In one embodiment, the invention provides a method to treat conditions resulting in bone loss comprising administering to a subject in need thereof a therapeutically effective amount of a composition comprising a modulator of the GPR78 or GPR26 polypeptide.

In one embodiment, the invention provides a method to treat diabetes comprising administering to a subject in need thereof a therapeutically effective amount of a composition comprising a modulator of the GPR78 or GPR26 polypeptide.

In one embodiment, the invention provides a method to decrease angiogenesis comprising administering to a subject in need thereof a therapeutically effective amount of a composition comprising a modulator of the GPR78 or GPR26 polypeptide.

Modulators of the GPR78 polypeptide and/or the GPR26 polypeptide may also be used to modulate angiogenesis. For example, disorders associated with increased angiogenesis (such as hyperproliferative disorders, diabetic blindness, age-related macular degeneration, rheumatoid arthritis and psoriasis) may be treated with an agonist of the GPR78 polypeptide or the GPR26 polypeptide. Similarly, disorders associated with decreased angiogenesis (such as stroke or delayed wound healing) may be treated with an agonist of the GPR78 polypeptide or the GPR26 polypeptide.

In one embodiment, the invention provides a method to treat a neurological disorder comprising administering to a subject in need thereof a therapeutically effective amount of a composition comprising: a phytoestrogen or an analog thereof, an isoflavone or an analog thereof, genistein or an analog thereof, daidzein or an analog thereof, biochanin A or an analog thereof, formononetin or an analog thereof. In a preferred embodiment, the invention provides a method to treat a neurological disorder comprising administering to a subject in need thereof a therapeutically effective amount of genistein, daidzein or analogs thereof.

In one embodiment, the invention provides a method to treat a schizophrenia comprising administering to a subject in need thereof a therapeutically effective amount of a composition comprising: a phytoestrogen or an analog thereof, an isoflavone or an analog thereof, genistein or an analog thereof, daidzein or an analog thereof, biochanin A or an analog thereof, formononetin or an analog thereof. In a preferred embodiment, the invention provides a method to treat a neurological disorder comprising administering to a subject in need thereof a therapeutically effective amount of genistein, daidzein or analogs thereof.

In one embodiment, the invention provides a method to treat a bipolar affective disorder comprising administering to a subject in need thereof a therapeutically effective amount of a composition comprising: a phytoestrogen or an analog thereof, an isoflavone or an analog thereof, genistein or an analog thereof, daidzein or an analog thereof, biochanin A or an analog thereof, formononetin or an analog thereof. In a preferred embodiment, the invention provides a method to treat a neurological disorder comprising administering to a subject in need thereof a therapeutically effective amount of genistein, daidzein or analogs thereof.

Agonists of the GPR78 polypeptide and/or the GPR26 polypeptide may also be used as antioxidants, to diminish blood leptin concentration and to improve memory.

Pharmaceutical Compositions

The modulators (agonists and antagonists) of the GPR78 polypeptide or GPR26 polypeptide, such as, for example, small organic molecules, peptides, inhibitory ligand analogs, agonistic or antagonistic antibodies or binding fragments thereof, as well as other types of agonists and antagonists, identified using the methods of the invention, may be used therapeutically to modulate the activity of the GPR78 polypeptide or GPR26 polypeptide, and thereby to treat any medical condition caused or mediated by the GPR78 polypeptide or GPR26 polypeptide.

The dosage regimen involved in therapeutic application will be determined by the attending physician, considering various factors which may modify the action of the modulator of the GPR78 polypeptide or GPR26 polypeptide, e.g., the condition, body weight, sex and diet of the patient, the severity of any infection, time of administration, and other clinical factors.

Although the compositions of this invention could be administered in simple solution, they are more typically used in combination with other materials such as carriers, preferably pharmaceutical carriers. Useful pharmaceutical carriers can be any compatible, non-toxic substance suitable for delivering the compositions of the invention to a patient. Sterile water, alcohol, fats, waxes, and inert solids may be included in a carrier. Pharmaceutically acceptable adjuvants (buffering agents, dispersing agents) may also be incorporated into the pharmaceutical composition. Generally, compositions useful for parenteral administration of such drugs are well known; e.g. Remington's Pharmaceutical Science, 17th Ed. (Mack Publishing Company, Easton, Pa., 1990). Alternatively, compositions of the invention may be introduced into a patient's body by implantable drug delivery systems (Urquhart et al., Ann. Rev. Pharmacol Toxicol. 24:199 (1984)).

Therapeutic formulations may be administered in many conventional dosage formulation. Formulations typically comprise at least one active ingredient, together with one or more pharmaceutically acceptable carriers. Formulations may include those suitable for oral, rectal, nasal, or parenteral (including subcutaneous, intramuscular, intravenous and intradermal) administration.

The formulations may conveniently be presented in unit dosage form and may be prepared by any methods well known in the art of pharmacy. See, e.g., Gilman et al. (eds.) (1990), The Pharmacological Bases of Therapeutics, 8th Ed., Pergamon Press; and Remington's Pharmaceutical Sciences, supra, Easton, Pa.; Avis et al. (eds.) (1993) Pharmaceutical Dosage Forms: Parenteral Medications Dekker, N.Y.; Lieberman et al. (eds.) (1990) Pharmaceutical Dosage Forms Tablets Dekker, New York; and Lieberman et al. (eds.) (1990), Pharmaceutical Dosage Forms Disperse Systems Dekker, N.Y.

For therapeutic use, the antibodies to the GPR78 polypeptide or GPR26 polypeptide (or fragments of said antibodies) are preferably chimeric or humanized to reduce antigenicity and human anti-mouse antibody (HAMA) reactions. The methodology involved is disclosed, e.g., in U.S. Pat. No. 4,816,397 to Boss et al. and in U.S. Pat. No. 4,816,567 to Cabilly et al. Further refinements on antibody humanization are described in European Patent 451 216 B1.

Typical protocols for the therapeutic administration of antibodies are well known in the art and have been disclosed, e.g., by Elliott et al., The Lancet 344:1125 (1994); Isaacs et al., The Lancet 340:748 (1992); Anasetti et al., Transplantation 54:844 (1992); Anasetti et al., Blood 84:1320 (1994); Hale et al., The Lancet 2:1394 (1988); Queen, Scrip 1881:18 (1993); and Mathieson et al., N. Eng. J. Med. 323:250 (1990).

Often, treatment dosages are titrated upward from a low level to optimize safety and efficacy. For example, daily antibody dosages will fall within a range of about 0.01 to 20 mg protein per kilogram of body weight. Typically, the dosage range will be from about 0.1 to 5 mg protein per kilogram of body weight.

Dosages of antigen binding fragments from the antibodies will be adjusted to account for the smaller molecular sizes and possibly decreased half-lives (clearance times) following administration. Various modifications or derivatives of the antibodies or fragments, such as addition of polyethylene glycol chains (PEGylation), may be made to influence their pharmacokinetic and/or pharmacodynamic properties.

Knockout Animals

The present invention further encompasses knockout animals that express less or no functional GPR26 receptor (“GPR26 knockouts”) as a result of one or more loss-of-function mutations. In particular, the present invention comprises a GPR26 knockout mouse that exhibits reduced anxiety and/or reduced metabolic activity. In one embodiment, one of the alleles of the endogenous GPR26 gene has been inactivated. In another embodiment, both alleles of the endogenous GPR26 gene have been inactivated. These animals are said to have a disrupted endogenous GPR26 gene. Preferably, such an animal expresses no GPR26 polypeptide. A non-human animal that does not express any functional GPR26 polypeptide is often referred to as having a “null” mutation.

Preferably, the knockout animal is a non-human mammal, such as a pig, a sheep or a rodent. Most preferably, the knockout animal is a mouse or a rat.

The GPR26 knockout mouse may exhibit reduced anxiety as demonstrated by one or more anxiety measurement assays, e.g., an Elevated Plus Maze Test, an Open Field Test, a Novel Environment-Induced Feeding Suppression Assay, a Tail Suspension Test, or a Comprehensive Cage Monitoring System, as described in Examples 13-16 and 23 below.

The GPR26 knockout mouse may exhibit reduced metabolic activity as demonstrated by one or more metabolism measurement assays, e.g., a Comprehensive Cage Monitoring System, as described in Example 23 below.

The present invention also provides for descendants of the GPR26 knockout mouse, which may be obtained by breeding with animals of the same or another genotype. Primary cell cultures, secondary cell lines, tissue explants, cultures of tissue explants, organ explants, cultures of organ explants, tissue extracts, and cell extracts derived from the GPR26 knockout mouse are also within the scope of the present invention.

Methods of Producing Knockout Animals

Methods for generating a non-human knockout animal are well known in the art, and any suitable method may be used.

In one embodiment, the GPR26 knockout mouse of the present invention is produced by the introduction of a knockout construct into murine embryonic stem (ES) cells. At least a portion of the GPR26 gene in the ES cell is replaced by, e.g., homologous recombination with the knockout construct, which comprises at least a portion of one exon of the GPR26 coding sequence.

ES cells are grown on an appropriate fibroblast-feeder layer or grown in the presence of appropriate growth factors, such as leukemia inhibiting factor (LIF). Knockout constructs can be efficiently introduced into the ES cells by DNA transfection using a variety of methods known to the art, including electroporation, calcium phosphate co-precipitation, protoplast or spheroplast fusion, lipofection and DEAE-dextran-mediated transfection. Knockout constructs may also be introduced into ES cells by retrovirus-mediated transduction or by micro-injection. Cells containing the knockout construct may be detected by employing a selective medium. After sufficient time for the colonies to grow, they are picked and analyzed for the occurrence of homologous recombination or integration of the knockout construct using, e.g., Southern blot or PCR.

Those colonies that are positive may then be used for embryo manipulation and blastocyst injection. Blastocysts are obtained from four- to six-week-old superovulated females. The ES cells are trypsinized, and the modified cells are injected into the blastocoel of the blastocyst. After injection, the blastocysts are returned to each uterine horn of pseudopregnant females. Females are then allowed to go to term, and the resulting litters are screened for cells that have incorporated the knockout construct. For a review, see Jaenisch, R., Science 240:1468-1474 (1988).

By providing for a different phenotype of the blastocyst and the ES cells, chimeric progeny that carry the GPR26 gene disruption can be readily detected. The chimeric animals are screened for the presence of the knockout construct. Chimeric animals that carry the GPR26 gene disruption (normally chimeric males) are mated with wildtype animals to produce heterozygotes, and the heterozygotes are mated to produce homozygotes for the GPR26 gene disruption if desired.

In another embodiment, the GPR26 knockout mouse of the invention is produced by introducing knockout constructs into the germline of the mouse. One or several copies of the knockout construct may be incorporated into the genome. Embryonal target cells at various developmental stages can be used to introduce knockout constructs. Different methods are used depending on the stage of development of the embryonal target cell. Introduction of the knockout construct into the embryo can be accomplished by any means known in the art such as, for example, microinjection, electroporation, or lipofection. Following introduction of the knockout construct into the fertilized egg, the egg may be incubated in vitro for varying amounts of time, or reimplanted into the surrogate host, or both. In vitro incubation to maturity is within the scope of this invention. One common method in to incubate the embryos in vitro for about 1-7 days, depending on the species, and then reimplant them into the surrogate host.

For the purposes of this invention a zygote is essentially the formation of a diploid cell which is capable of developing into a complete organism. Generally, the zygote will be comprised of an egg containing a nucleus formed, either naturally or artificially, by the fusion of two haploid nuclei from a gamete or gametes.

The number of copies of the knockout constructs that are added to the zygote is dependent upon the total amount of exogenous genetic material added and will be the amount that enables the genetic transformation to occur. Theoretically only one copy is required; however, generally, numerous copies are utilized, for example, 1,000-20,000 copies of the knockout construct, in order to insure that one copy is functional. As regards the present invention, there will often be an advantage to having more than one functioning copy of each of the inserted exogenous DNA sequences to enhance the phenotypic expression of the exogenous DNA sequences.

Any technique which allows for the addition of the exogenous genetic material into nucleic genetic material can be utilized so long as it is not destructive to the cell, nuclear membrane or other existing cellular or genetic structures. The exogenous genetic material is preferentially inserted into the nucleic genetic material by microinjection. Microinjection of cells and cellular structures is known and is used in the art.

Reimplantation is accomplished using standard methods. Usually, the surrogate host is anesthetized, and the embryos are inserted into the oviduct. The number of embryos implanted into a particular host will vary by species, but will usually be comparable to the number of offspring the species naturally produces.

Knockout offspring of the surrogate host may be screened for the presence and/or expression of the knockout construct by any suitable method. Screening is often accomplished by Southern blot or Northern blot analysis, using a probe that is complementary to at least a portion of the knockout construct. Western blot analysis using an antibody against a protein encoded by the knockout construct may be employed as an alternative or additional method for screening for the presence of the knockout construct product. Alternative or additional methods for evaluating the presence of the knockout construct include, without limitation, suitable biochemical assays such as enzyme and/or immunological assays, histological stains for particular marker or enzyme activities, flow cytometric analysis, and the like. Analysis of the blood may also be useful to detect the presence of the knockout construct product in the blood, as well as to evaluate the effect of the knockout construct on the levels of various types of blood cells and other blood constituents.

Progeny of the knockout animals may be obtained by mating the knockout animal with a suitable partner, or by in vitro fertilization of eggs and/or sperm obtained from the knockout animal. Where mating with a partner is to be performed, the partner may or may not be a knockout. Alternatively, the partner may be a parental line. Where in vitro fertilization is used, the fertilized embryo may be implanted into a surrogate host, or incubated in vitro, or both. Using either method, the progeny may be evaluated for the presence of the knockout construct using methods described above, or other appropriate methods.

Uses of Knockout Animals

The GPR26 knockout mice of this invention will have a variety of uses. The different uses of the GPR26 knockout mice according to the invention include not only the whole animal per se, but also parts of the animal for use in vitro, such as a cell, tissue, organ and bone.

The GPR26 knockout mouse of the present invention has utility as a model for the development of therapies for anxiety disorders or metabolic disorders. Because the GPR26 knockout mouse exhibits reduced anxiety and reduced metabolism, this knockout provides a setting to investigate related disorders.

The GPR26 knockout mouse of the present invention may be used to screen an agent for activity in stimulating, preventing, inhibiting, alleviating or reversing activity in different diseases or disorders. Such an agent may be a chemical compound, a drug, or a pharmaceutical compound. It may also be nucleic acid, such as DNA, RNA, a protein or fragments thereof; an antibody or fragments thereof; a peptide, such as a polypeptide or oligopeptide; or a mixture thereof. Also, the agent may be an agent or a mixture of agents retrieved as a natural extract from the vegetable kingdom, or the animal kingdom.

Screening for useful drugs or agents would involve administering the candidate drug or agent over a range of doses to the GPR26 knockout animal and assaying at various time points for a modulating effect(s) of the drug on the disorder being evaluated. A knockout animal of the present invention could be used to screen a variety of agents, either alone or in combination, to determine, e.g., whether partial or total restoration or activation of a certain activity will occur. Screening methods involving GPR26 knockout animals are of particular use for determining the specificity and action of potential therapies for anxiety disorders or metabolic disorders.

Test agents could also be evaluated in vitro. For instance, primary cultures or cell lines could be established in vitro from GPR26 knockout animals using standard protocols. Test compounds could be administered to the cultured cells in various doses and the effects evaluated.

In one embodiment, a GPR26 knockout mouse and its progeny according to the invention may be used to screen an agent for activity in preventing, inhibiting, alleviating or reversing activity in an anxiety disorder.

Thus, the present invention provides methods for screening agents for anxiolytic or anxiety-inducing activity, and particularly for GPR26 anxiolytic or anxiety-inducing activity. In these screening methods of the present invention, a test anxiolytic or anxiety-inducing agent is administered to an animal model of reduced anxiety, and the effect of the test compound on the animal model is determined and related to the anxiolytic or anxiety-inducing properties of the test agent. A feature of the subject invention is that the reduced anxiety animal model is generally a GPR26 knockout mouse.

In a preferred embodiment of these screening methods, the candidate agent is administered to the animal model, and the animal model is then subjected to one or more anxiety measurement assays, e.g., an Elevated Plus Maze Test, an Open Field Test, a Novel Environment-Induced Feeding Suppression Assay, a Tail Suspension Test, or a Comprehensive Cage Monitoring. System, as described in Examples 13-16 and 23 below. Aspects of the anxiety-like behavior of the animal model in the assays are then determined and related to the anxiolytic or anxiety-inducing activity of the test agent, e.g., through comparison with a control. In some embodiments, the control is a second GPR26 knockout mouse that has not been administered the test agent.

In another embodiment, a GPR26 knockout mouse and its progeny according to the invention may be used to screen an agent for activity in preventing, inhibiting, alleviating or reversing activity in a metabolic disorder.

Thus, the present invention provides methods for screening agents for metabolic activity, and particularly for GPR26 metabolic activity. In these screening methods of the present invention, a test metabolic agent is administered to an animal model of reduced metabolism, and the effect of the test compound on the animal model is determined and related to the metabolic properties of the test agent. A feature of the subject invention is that the reduced metabolism animal model is generally a GPR26 knockout mouse.

In a preferred embodiment of these screening methods, the candidate agent is administered to the animal model, and the animal model is then subjected to one or more metabolism measurement assays, e.g., a Comprehensive Cage Monitoring System, as described in Example 23 below. For example, changes in indicators of metabolic rate, such as oxygen levels, carbon dioxide levels, heat production and blood levels of thyroxine can be evaluated. Body weight pre- and post-treatment may also be assessed. Aspects of the metabolism of the animal model in the assays are then determined and related to the metabolic activity of the test agent, e.g., through comparison with a control. In some embodiments, the control is a second GPR26 knockout mouse that has not been administered the test agent.

The GPR26 knockout mouse of the present invention may also be used as a model for GPR26 receptor function. For example, the GPR26 knockout mice of the invention may be utilized to evaluate specific modulators of GPR26 pathways, e.g., for a stimulatory or inhibitory effect. Test compounds, e.g., from compound libraries, can be applied to the animals and the effect of the compounds evaluated, e.g., by comparison with placebo-treated animals.

Diagnostic Methods

GPR26 is implicated in metabolic disorders. Therefore, detecting the presence and/or activity of GPR26 in an individual, or preferably in a sample isolated from an individual, allows a diagnosis to be made on the presence of or susceptibility to metabolic disorders, as will be appreciated by one skilled in the art. In a preferred embodiment, the diagnosis is performed in vitro, i.e. it is not performed on the body of a person or animal that is being diagnosed.

Thus, the present invention provides a method of determining whether an individual (e.g., a patient) is susceptible to a metabolic disorder, comprising the steps of (a) determining the expression level of a GPR26 polypeptide in a sample isolated from the individual, and (b) determining, compared to a control, whether the individual from which the sample was isolated has or is susceptible to a metabolic disorder.

The present invention, also provides a method of determining whether an individual is susceptible to a metabolic disorder, comprising the steps of (a) determining the level of biological activity of a GPR26 polypeptide in a sample isolated from the individual, and (b) determining, compared to a control, whether the individual from which the sample was isolated has or is susceptible to a metabolic disorder.

The sample may comprise a cell or tissue sample from an organism suffering or suspected to be suffering from a disorder associated with increased, reduced or otherwise abnormal GPR26 expression, including spatial or temporal changes in level or pattern of expression. The expression level of a GPR26 polypeptide in the sample may be determined by, e.g., measuring levels of GPR26 polypeptide or GPR26 mRNA. The level or pattern of expression of GPR26 polypeptide in an organism suffering from or suspected to be suffering from such a disorder may be usefully compared with the level or pattern of expression in a normal organism as a means of diagnosis of disease.

The presence of a nucleic acid comprising a GPR26 nucleic acid in a sample may be determined by contacting the sample with at least one nucleic acid probe specific for said nucleic acid and monitoring said sample for the presence of the nucleic acid. The nucleic acid probe may specifically bind to the GPR26 nucleic acid, or a portion of it, and any binding between the two detected; the presence of the complex itself may also be detected. The presence of a GPR26 polypeptide in a sample may be determined by contacting the sample with an antibody capable of binding the polypeptide and monitoring the sample for the presence of the polypeptide. This may conveniently be achieved by monitoring the presence of a complex formed between the antibody and the polypeptide, or by monitoring the binding between the polypeptide and the antibody. Methods of detecting binding between two entities are known in the art, and include FRET (fluorescence resonance energy transfer), surface plasmon resonance, etc.

Decreased or increased expression can be measured at the RNA level using any of the methods well known in the art for the quantitation of polynucleotides, such as, for example, PCR, RT-PCR, RNase protection, Northern blotting and other hybridization methods. Assay techniques that can be used to determine levels of a protein, such as a GPR26 polypeptide, in a sample derived from a host are well-known to those of skill in the art. Such assay methods include radioimmunoassays, competitive-binding assays, Western Blot analysis and ELISA assays.

The present invention further provides a kit for diagnosis of susceptibility to a GPR26-associated metabolic disorder comprising one or more of: a GPR26 polypeptide or a fragment thereof, an antibody against such a polypeptide or fragment (or fragment of it), a GPR26 polynucleotide or a fragment thereof, and a complementary nucleotide sequence.

Individuals identified as susceptible to a GPR26-associated disorder according to the methods provided above can be treated to prevent the occurrence of the disorder. Similarly, individuals so identified can be treated in the early stages of a GPR26-associated disorder to prevent the further occurrence or development of the disorder.

Example 1

Cloning, Expression and Functional Analysis of the GPR78 and GPR26 Polypeptides

Molecular Cloning

Full length open reading frames (ORFS) of GPR78 and GPR26 were obtained with PCR. Specific sense and antisense oligonucleotide primers were synthesized to cover the initiating ATG and the stop codons. Primers for GPR78 were J606 (GCC GCC ACC ATG GGC CCC GGC GAG GCG CTG CTG (SEQ ID NO: 5)) and J607 (TCA GTG TGT CTG CTG CAG GCA GGA (SEQ ID NO: 6)). Primers for GPR26 were J686 (GCC GCC ACC ATG AAC TCG TGG GAC GCG GGC CT (SEQ ID NO: 7)) and J687 (CCT TCA AGA CAC CGG CAG AAT (SEQ ID NO: 8)). PCR was run to amplify by using Marathon-Ready™ cDNA obtained from Clontech as template. The PCR conditions were: 95° C., 3 min; 35 cycles of 95° C., 30 s, 62° C., 30 s, 68° C., 2 min; and 68° C., 7 min. The resulting PCR products of 1023 bp and 1011 bp respectively were gel-purified using a gel extraction kit from QIAGEN, and cloned into a PCR3.1 vector (from Invitrogen) to form two expression constructs designated PCR3.1-GPR78 and PCR3.1-GPR26.

Expression Analysis

The expression patterns of GPR78 and GPR26 mRNA in human tissues were analyzed with using TAQMAN® detection as described previously ([21]).

HEK293/Cre-Luc Cell Line and Cell Culture

HEK293 cells (Invitrogen “H” strain) were co-transfected with the cAMP-responsive luciferase reporter plasmid pCREluc from Stratagene (La Jolla, Calif.; Catalog No. 219075-51) and plasmid harboring the hygromycin resistance gene, pTKhyg, from Clontech. Briefly, transfection was carried out by suspending 20×106 HEK293 cells/mL of complete medium DMEM, 10% FBS, non-essential amino acids, penicillin-streptomycin-glutamine. In 0.4 mL of cell suspension, 4 μg of each plasmid were electroporated at 500 μF and 0.2 kV in a 4 mm electroporation cuvette using the GenePulser instrument from Bio-Rad (Hercules, Calif.). Transfected cells were plated at approximately 1000 cells/10 cm dish in 10 mL complete medium and incubated at 37° C., 5% CO2. After 48 hours, the medium was replaced with fresh medium containing 200 μg/mL hygromycin. Cell colonies resisting hygromycin were picked and expanded for screening for luciferase activity. Colonized cells were plated into 96-well plates at 50,000 cells/100 μL medium/well using 8-well replicates per cell line. After overnight incubation at 37° C., 5% CO2, additions of forskolin at final concentrations of 0, 1, 5 and 10 μM in duplicate were done in the presence of 10 μM 4-(3-butoxy-4-methoxy-benzyl) imidazolidin-2-one (Sigma B-8279, RO20-1724). After 6 hours of incubation at 37° C., 5% CO2, 100 μL of Bright-Glo™ obtained from Promega (Madison, Wis.) was added. Luciferase activity was measured in relative light units (RLU) using a luminometer (Luminoskan Ascent®, Thermo-Electron Corp.) at 100 ms exposure per well. CREluc cell line #8 had highest fold activation of firefly luciferase and was used in the studies (referred to as HEK293/cre-luc).

HEK293-cre-luc stable cell line was grown in Dulbecco's modified eagle medium supplemented with 10% FSB, 10 mM MEM non essential amino acid solution, 100 U/ml penicillin, 0.1 mg/ml streptomycin and 100 μg/ml hygromycin B and incubated at 37° C. in a 5% CO2-95% air environment. 100 μg/ml hygromycin B was included in HEK293/cre-luc cell medium for maintenance of CRE luciferase in stable cell line.

Transient Transfection

HEK293/cre-luc cells were harvested by 0.05% trypsin EDTA buffer, cells re-suspended in complete culture medium 20 million in 0.4 μl transfection cuvette, 1 microgram receptor plasmid was transfected into reporter cells by electroporation method. The parameter of the GenePulser (Bio-Rad Laboratories, Hercules, Calif.) was set at: voltage 200 volts and capacity 500 microfarads. After electroporation, cells were re-suspended at a density of 25,000 cells in 25 μl complete medium, placed in 384-well plate. After 24 hours of transfection, the transfection medium was replaced with fresh complete medium. Empty plasmid vector was transfected as a negative control (mock transfection).

Cre Luciferase cAMP Assay

Forty hours after transfection, cells were stimulated by adding 5 μl of ligand in 60 μM 4-(3-butoxy-4-methoxy-benzyl)-2-Imidazolidinone in 293 SFM II serum-free media obtained from Gibco (Gaithersburg, Md.), and incubated for 6 hours at 37° C. in a 5% CO2-95% air incubator. When inhibitors were used in the assay, they were added 30 minutes before cell stimulation. At the end of incubation, 25 μl of Bright-Glo™ obtained from Promega (Madison, Wis.) was added into each well. Luciferase activity was determined with a luminometer (Luminoskan Ascent®, Thermo-Electron Corp.), at a speed of 100 milliseconds per well.

Stable Transfection of GPR78 and GPR26

Constructs PCR3.1-GPR78 and PCR3.1-GPR26 were transfected into HEK293/cre-luc cells with use of Lipofectamine™ 2000 and cells were selected for G418 resistance. Cells resistant to G418 were further diluted and selected for individual colonies. Cell lines grown from the G418-resistant colonies were screened for positive response with genistein in the Cre-Luciferase cAMP assay.

cAMP Measurements

Intracellular cAMP was measured directly with a cAMP kit purchased from Meso Scale Discovery (Gaithersburg, Md., Ma6000 cAMP 384-well Kit, Catalog number K210FDD-2). The assay was preformed by following the manufacturer's protocol. Briefly, stable HEK293/cre-luc cells expressing GPR78 or GPR26 were harvested, washed with PBS and resuspended at 300,000/10 μl of assay buffer (from the kit) containing 0.5 mM IBMX. Genistein at appropriate concentrations was diluted in the cAMP assay buffer and 5 μl was added into wells of the assay plate. The mixture was then incubated at room temperature for 30 minutes. Light intensity in assay wells was measured using a MSD SI6000 instrument obtained from Meso Scale Discovery.

Reagents and Materials

The NIH 3T3 cell line was obtained from the ATCC. Culture media and supplements were from Gibco (Gaithersburg, Md.); Bright-Glo™ luciferase assay system was obtained from Promega (Madison, Wis.); Cyclic AMP assay kits were purchased from Meso Scale Discovery; forskolin, genistein, SQ22536, MDL-1233a, H89 were from Sigma-Aldrich Chemical Co (St. Louis, Mo.); 4-(3-butoxy-4-methoxy benzyl)-2-imidazolidinone was from ICN Biomedical Inc. (Aurora, Ohio). The Library of Pharmacologically Active Compounds (LOPAC) collection was obtained from Sigma.

Example 2

Activation of GPR78 by Isoflavones

To find ligands for GPR78, a number of molecules including the RBI LOPAC collection that contains a total of 640 compounds in eight 96-well plates were screened. The RBI LOPAC collection is a collection of molecules of known receptor agonists and antagonists, enzyme inhibitors, and signal transduction agents.

Response of cells with the expressed receptor to test ligand stimulation was subject to two types of detection: intracellular cAMP accumulation and intracellular Ca2+ flux monitored with fluorescent intensity using a Fluorimetric Image Plate Reader (FLIPR). For cAMP measurement, a HEK293 cell line that had been stably transfected with luciferase reporter gene, was used as a host cell transiently transfected with the pCR3.1-GPR78 construct described in Example 1.

In this screening, it was found that 25 μM of genistein significantly stimulated cAMP production, showing an increased luciferase activity, as compared to the mock transfection control (more than 8-fold increase, FIG. 1). Forskolin, at 10 μM as a positive control, stimulated cellular cAMP at comparable levels between cells that expressed GPR78 and did not express GPR78 (FIG. 1). Ten μM of forskolin was used because forskolin stimulated luciferase signal in a concentration range between 0 and 10 μM in a linear fashion. Cyclic AMP level stimulated with use of 10 μM of forskolin was used as a reference as maximum forskolin-stimulated cAMP production in each experiment.

Genistein is known to inhibit protein tyrosine kinase with IC50 at 1-22 μM, depending on the substrates used ([12]; [22]). To test if the increased cAMP production was caused by the protein tyrosine kinase (PTK)-inhibiting activity of genistein, two other PTK inhibitors were examined and compared with genistein. PTK inhibitors Tyrphostin B42 and Tyrphostin A9 at 23 μM and 24 μM respectively, stimulated cAMP at a level not higher than the level in GPR78-expressing cells stimulated with buffer (“Basal” level in FIG. 1). The IC50's of these two compounds at inhibiting PTK were 20 μM ([23]) and 0.04-9 μM ([24]), respectively, and are comparable or well below the concentrations used in the experiment. Cells transfected with GPR78 cDNA had a higher cAMP level than the mock cells when stimulated with only buffer (FIG. 1); this data suggests existence of a constitutive activity of the receptor.

The potency of genistein in induction of cAMP in GPR78 expressing-293HEK/cre-luc cells (EC50=7 μM in FIG. 2A) was determined. Multiple independent measurements yielded an EC50 range of 6 to 10 μM, n=6. Again, only GPR78-cells responded to genistein stimulation while mock transected cells showed much lower cAMP response when incubated with genistein (FIG. 2A). Forskolin as control elevated cAMP levels in both GPR78-cells and mock-cells (FIG. 2B), but that for GPR78-cells was higher than control cell expressing no GPR78 at each forskolin concentration except in higher concentration region where effect of forskolin was saturated (FIG. 2B), indicating the existence of constitutive activity of GPR78. To directly measure the cAMP concentration in the cells, HEK293/cre-luc cells stably transfected with GPR78 cDNA were incubated with genistein and cAMP was measured. Again, there was an elevated level of cAMP in the cells at lower concentration of genistein; further increase genistein concentration resulted in a dose response increase of cAMP level with an EC50 of ˜6 μM (FIG. 2C). This data is consistent with a GPR78-expression-mediated constitutive activity and receptor activation at higher genistein concentration.

Another GPCR, GPR30, has been found to respond to estrogen as well as genistein activation through a c-fos pathway in MCF-7, MAD-MB-231 and SKBR3 breast cancer cells ([25]). Since GPR78 is activated by genistein, a test was conducted to determine if GPR78 was also activated by estrogen. 17β-estradiol, progesterone, testosterone were incubated with HEK293/cre-luc/GPR78 cells and cAMP measurements were performed by luciferase reporter assay as well as direct cAMP measurement using a cAMP assay kit obtained from Perkin-Elmer (Catalog No. 6760625). All compounds were dissolved in 50% DMSO at 10 mM, diluted to 15% DMSO, and added into cells medium at a further dilution factor of 10. The compounds were in 1.5% DMSO at final concentration 300 μM. No cAMP stimulation was observed with estrogen and other steroids. In addition, 17β-estradiol in water soluble form (Sigma, catalog number E4389) was tested with HEK293/cre-luc/GPR78 cells and no increase cAMP was observed.

A group of isoflavones isolated from soybean with structural similarity to genistein was also tested. Daidzein significantly increased cAMP level comparable to that by genistein (FIG. 3). Biochanin A and formononetin only slightly induced cAMP levels as compared to the buffer control in this experiment. However, it is likely that biochanin A and formononetin may show higher activity at other concentrations or under different assay conditions (FIG. 3).

Example 3

Constitutive Activity of GPR78

To demonstrate that the spontaneous increase of cAMP in the presence of GPR78 and absence of genistein, HEK293/cre-luc cells were transfected with a decreasing amount of GPR78 cDNA, and cAMP levels at each transfection were measured. As shown in FIG. 4, the constitutive activity of GPR78 was dependent on the amount of GPR78 cDNA transfected into cells, indicating that the elevated basal cAMP is GPR78-expression level dependent. In addition, cells starved with serum-free medium overnight did not abolish the constitutive activity; cells incubated with charcoal-stripped serum overnight also had no effect on the activity; and cells incubated with PBS overnight prior to assay cAMP did not decrease the constitutive activity either. These results indicate that the observed constitutive activity resulted from expression of GPR78 receptor is not activated by components in the cell medium.

Example 4

GPR78 is not Coupled to Gq-Coupled Pathway

Ca2+ flux measurements were taken to test if GPR78, when activated with genistein, is coupled to the Gq-mediated pathway. GPR78-expressing HEK/cre-luc cells were not activated by genistein at concentrations near 100 μM in Ca++ flux assay using a FLIPR measurement (FIG. 5), while GPR154, a neuropeptide S GPCR ([26]) as a positive control for the experiment, responded to neuropeptide S acutely in the Ca2+ flux assay (FIG. 5).

Example 5

Protein Kinase A- and Adenylyl Cyclase-Dependent Signaling by GPR78

Protein kinase A inhibitor H89 was used to test if genistein activation of GPR78 is PKA dependent. HEK293/cre-luc/GPR78 cells were incubated with H89 for 30 minutes (FIG. 6A), then genistein was added and cAMP levels were measured. Most of genistein-induced cAMP was reduced at 10 μM of H89, and all cAMP accumulation was abolished at 100 μM of H89, as shown in the right portion of FIG. 6A, where genistein started to activate signaling. The basal cAMP levels in GPR78-transfected cells at genistein concentration below its EC50 (left portion of FIG. 6A) represent constitutive activity of GPR78 at various H89 concentrations. Ten μM of H89 caused decrease of the basal cAMP level by approximately half as compared to cells with no H89, whereas 100 μM of H89 completely inhibited cAMP accumulation (FIG. 6A). Mock-transfected cells displayed minimal H89 inhibition of the already low cAMP level (FIG. 6B). The data suggests both genistein-stimulated and constitutive basal cAMP accumulations are PKA-dependent and the degrees of inhibition is consistent with the reported IC50 of H89 (50 nM) [27].

Inhibition of adenylyl cyclase activity also resulted in reduction of cAMP production. Adenylyl cyclase inhibitor SQ22536 (FIG. 7) at 20 μM was pre-incubated in HEK293/cre-luc/GPR78 cells and control cells, and cAMP levels were measured in the presence and absence of genistein. SQ22536 reduced genistein-stimulated cAMP by 25% and cAMP level as a result of constitutive activity of GPR78 by 34%, respectively (FIG. 7). The degree of inhibition of cAMP production is consistent with the published IC50 of 20 μM for SQ22536 in cell-free enzyme assays ([28]). The data indicates involvement of adenylyl cyclase in the signaling pathway for GPR78.

Example 6

Activation of GPR26 by Genistein

GPR26, another orphan GPCR, shares 51% identity in the seven transmembrane regions with GPR78 ([19]). The high degree of homology suggests that the two receptors belong to the same GPRC family and may be activated by identical ligands. HEK293/cre-luc cells were transiently transfected with pCR3.1-GPR26 and monitored cAMP levels upon stimulation with genistein. Genistein activated GPR26 with an EC50 of ˜10 μM in the cre-luc reporter assay (FIG. 8A). The data indicates that GPR26, similar to GPR78, is activated by genistein and is also constitutively active in elevating basal cAMP level. Direct measurement of cAMP yielded comparable data as the cre-luc reporter assay: incubation of HEK293/cre-luc cells stably expressing GPR26 with genistein also resulted in stimulated cAMP production in the cells while genistein had no effect on cAMP production in control cells that had not been transfected with GPR26 (FIG. 8B).

Example 7

Identification of Small Molecule Antagonists of GPR26 and GPR78

Screening was performed by using cells transiently expressing GPR26 or GPR78. HEK293/cre-luc cells were harvested by using 0.05% trypsin EDTA solution, and were suspended in complete culture medium at a density of 20 million in 0.4 ml transfection cuvettes. One 1 microgram plasmid construct containing GPR78 or GPR26 cDNA was transfected into reporter cells by electroporation using the GenePulser (Bio-Red Laboratories, Hercules, Calif.). The transfection conditions were: voltage at 200 volts and capacity at 500 microfarads. After electroporation, cells were suspended at a density of 25,000 cells in 25 μl complete medium and placed in a 384-well plate. After 24 hours of transfection, the transfection medium was replaced with fresh complete medium. Empty plasmid vector was transfected as a negative control (mock transfection). The compounds were arranged in 96-well format in eight racks of 80, with one compound per well (250 μl at 10 mM in DMSO). Forty hours after transfection, cells were incubated with test compounds for 30 minutes (test concentration ˜25 uM), then stimulated by incubation with 10 uM 4-(3-butoxy-4-methoxy-benzyl)-2-Imidazolidinone in 293 SFM II serum-free media for 6 hours at 37° C. in a 5% CO2-95% air incubator. By the end of incubation, 25 ul of Bright-Glo™ (Promega, Madison, Wis.) was added into each well. Luciferase activity was determined with a Luminometer (Luminoskan Ascent, Thermo Labsystems), at a speed of 100 milliseconds per well.

Among the test compounds, diphenyleneiodonium Cl and sanguinarine Cl hydrate were found to inhibit activation of GPR26 and GPR78 in the cre-luc reporter assay. Thus, these two compounds were identified as GPR26 and GPR78 antagonists. To determine the inhibitory potency of the two molecules, dose-response curves were generated with the same assay method and IC50 values calculated from the curves. The IC50 of diphenyleneiodonium Cl was 39 uM for GPR26 and 65 uM for GPR78 (FIG. 9). The IC50 of sanguinarine Cl hydrate was 0.26 uM for GPR26 and 0.65 uM for GPR78 (FIG. 10).

Example 8

Screening for Small Molecule GPR26 Agonists

Stable Transfection of GPR26—Preparation of a Cell Line Expressing GPR26

Construct PCR3.1-GPR26 was transfected into HEK293/cre-luc cells using Lipofectamine 2000, and tranfectant cells were selected for G418 resistance at 500 ug/ml. Cells resistant to G418 were further diluted and selected for individual colonies. Cell lines grown from the G418-resistant colonies were screened with genistein for positive response in the cre-luciferase activity.

Screening for GPR26 Agonists

HEK293 cells expressing GPR26 were prepared by seeding 10,000 cells/well in 384-well plates (Matrix White Polystyrene TC—100 uL F 384) and grown overnight in 293 SFM II serum-free media at 37° C. in a 5% CO2-95% air incubator. The medium was then removed, and 20 ul PBS containing 20 uM RO-20 (cAMP phosphodiesterase inhibitor, 4-(3-butoxy-4-methoxy-benzyl) imidazolidin-2-one) was added to the well followed by one-hour incubation in the 37° C. incubator. To the cells, 2.2 ul compound solution was then added, and the cells were incubated for 6 hours in the incubator. The final concentration of the compound was 1.25 ug/ml and DMSO 1% (vol./vol.). About 46,000 compounds were screened. Genistein at 25 uM was used as positive control for the assay. By the end of incubation, 25 ul of Bright-Glo™ (Promega, Madison, Wis.) was added into each well. Luciferase activity was determined with a Luminometer (Leadseeker). Hit compounds were selected by calculating ability to stimulate the luciferase activity. The potency (EC50) of the hits was assessed by performing dose-response curves with the test compounds at 3.75, 1.25, 0.417, 0.139 and 0.046 ug/ml.

Example 9

Screening for Small Molecule GPR26 Antagonists

Stable Transfection of GPR26—Preparation of a Cell Line Expressing GPR26

Construct PCR3.1-GPR26 was transfected into HEK293/cre-luc cells using Lipofectamine 2000, and tranfectant cells were selected for G418 resistance at 500 ug/ml. Cells resistant to G418 were further diluted and selected for individual colonies. Cell lines grown from the G418-resistant colonies were screened with genistein for positive response in the cre-luciferase activity.

Screening for GPR26 Antagonists

HEK293 cells expressing GPR26 were prepared by seeding 10,000 cells/well in 384-well plates (Matrix White Polystyrene TC—100 uL F 384) and grown overnight in 293 SFM II serum-free media at 37° C. in a 5% CO2-95% air incubator. The medium was then removed, and 18 ul PBS containing 20 uM RO-20 was added to the well followed by one-hour incubation in the 37° C. incubator. To the cells, 2 ul compound solution was added, and the cells were incubated again for 0.5 hours. The final concentration of the compound was 1.25 ug/ml and DMSO 1% (vol./vol.). Diphenyleneiodinium Cl at 30 uM was used as an antagonist control. The level of inhibition of cre-luciferase activity with diphenylenciodinium Cl was defined as one hundred percent inhibition and used for calculation of compound antagonist activity. Five ul of genistein at 125 uM was added (final 25 uM), and the cells were incubated for 6 hours in the 37° C. incubator. At the end of incubation, 25 ul of Bright-Glo™ (Promega, Madison, Wis.) was added into each well. Luciferase activity was determined with a Luminometer (Leadseeker). Hit compounds were selected by calculating ability to inhibit the luciferase activity. The potency (IC50) of hits was assessed by performing the same assay for dose-response curves with the test compounds at 3.75, 1.25, 0.417, 0.139 and 0.046 ug/ml.

Example 10

Expression of GPR78 and GPR26

GPR78 expression in various human tissues was detected with quantitative TAQMAN® measurements (FIG. 11A). The receptor is highly expressed in a number of peripheral tissues and several regions in the brain. Peripherally GPR78 was detected at high levels in urethra, nasal and oral mucosa, esophagus, tonsil and joint tissue. Centrally it is found in cortex, amygdala, putamen, hippocampus, VTA and cerebellum (FIG. 11A). In contrast, human GPR26 expression is more restricted in the brain regions (FIG. 11B). It was found in all the brain areas tested and is particularly high in cortex, hippocampus, substantia nigra and vestibular nucleus (FIG. 11B). The only peripheral tissues detected with significant expression of GPR26 were testes and thymus; no expression was observed in all other peripheral tissues (FIG. 11B).

Example 11

Generation of GPR26 Knockout Mice

Construction of the GPR26 Targeting Vector

A DNA vector designed to remove the entire coding region of the GPR26 gene was constructed using sequencing information from GenBank® accession number AC098570. DNA fragments corresponding to the 5′ and 3′ regions of the GPR26 locus were subcloned into a vector at either end of the neomycin resistance gene (neo). This targeting vector was linearized using the restriction enzyme NotI and electroporated into 129S3/SvImJderived embryonic stem (ES) cells. Colonies resistant to G418 were picked and expanded for DNA analysis. DNAs from these colonies were screened for the targeted GPR26 gene by a PCR-based strategy. The predicted structure of the targeted GPR26 locus in the PCR-positive cells was confirmed by Southern-blot analysis using probes that hybridize outside of and adjacent to the construct arms.

Generation of GPR26 Knockout Mice

Cells from several correctly targeted ES cell lines were injected into C57BL/6 blastocysts to generate chimeric mice. GPR26 heterozygous (GPR26+/−) offspring were identified by a PCR-based screening strategy using three oligonucleotide primers in a multiplex reaction corresponding to the region of homology, the neo gene, and the deleted region of the GPR26 gene. These primers were designed to detect both wild-type and targeted alleles. GPR26+/− mice were then interbred to generate GPR26−/−mice. Disruption of GPR26 expression was confirmed by real-time quantitative PCR analysis.

Examples 12-26 below pertain to characterization of the GPR26 knockout (KO) cohort, analyzing behavior and pain (including hyperalgesia).

The following phenotypes were identified in the GPR26 KO mice:

(1) An anxiolytic-like effect as assessed in the elevated plus maze and open field tests.

(2) A significant decrease in basic metabolic parameters, such as oxygen consumption, CO2 and heat production during long-term monitoring in the comprehensive cage monitoring system. No significant differences in body weight between the KO and WT mice were noticed in this study. However, it is possible that the KO mice might develop obesity later in life or be more susceptible to diet-induced obesity.

No significant phenotypes were detected in other behavioral and cross-therapeutic assays, such as sensorimotor gating, motor coordination, and sensitivity to pain or seizures. The histopathological evaluation of selected tissues has not revealed any differences between the KO and WT mice.

Example 12

GPR26 Knockout Mice

Irwin Functional Behavioral Battery Test

This test was performed on individually housed animals. The mice were maintained on a reverse Light:Dark cycle (12 hours light:12 hours dark); lights were turned off at 12:00 (noon), in a barrier facility with food and water available ad libitum. Testing occurred towards the end of the light phase of the cycle between 7:00 AM and 12:00 (noon). The mice were acclimated to the testing room for at least 30 minutes. Male and female GPR26 KO and B6x129 mice at 12-14 weeks of age (eight of each sex and genotype) were observed consecutively in a viewing jar (clear Perspex cylinder, 14.5×11.5 cm), an arena (clear Perspex rectangle, 55×33×18 cm, floor marked with fifteen 11 cm2 squares), above the arena and in a supine position.

Neurological characteristics evaluated included abdominal tone, body tone, contact righting reflex, convulsions, gait, grip strength, limb tone, negative geotaxis, pelvic elevation, righting reflex, tail elevation, tremor, twitches, and wire maneuver. Physical characteristics evaluated included body weight, body length, coat quality, and whiskers. Autonomic characteristics evaluated included body temperature, heart rate, lacrimation, palpebral closure, piloerection, pupil reflex, respiration rate, salivation and skin color. Behavioral characteristics evaluated included bizarre behavior, body position, corneal reflex, defecation, irritability, limb grasping, locomotor activity, pinna reflex, hind leg positional passivity, neck positional passivity, supine positional passivity, tail positional passivity, provoked biting, spontaneous activity, startle response, tail pinch, toe pinch, touch escape, transfer arousal, trunk curl, and visual placing.

Results

There were no differences between the WT and GPR26 KO mice in any of the measurements.

Example 13

GPR26 Knockout Mice

Elevated Plus Maze (EPM) Test

Individually housed male mice aged 9-11 weeks (10 of each genotype) were used for this experiment. The mice were maintained on a reverse Light:Dark cycle (12 hours light:12 hours dark) in a barrier facility. Food and water were available ad libitum. Testing occurred towards the end of the light cycle between 6:00 AM and 12:00 (noon). The mice were acclimated to the testing room for at least 30 minutes.

The elevated plus maze was constructed with black Plexiglass in the shape of a plus sign with a pair of open arms surrounded by a short wall of adjustable height (0.5 cm) and a pair of closed arms that were surrounded by 30 cm-high walls. Each arm was 30 cm long. The four arms is met at the central platform (6×6 cm). Four metal legs elevated the maze 50 cm above the floor. The maze was illuminated by infrared light from the bottom. The movements of each animal were monitored by an infrared sensitive video camera with filters blocking visible light. The cameras were fixed on the ceiling of the experimental room. Each camera was connected to a computer equipped with Videotrack (Viewpoint) software for data analysis.

Each individual animal was placed in the center of the maze, facing an open arm. The time spent in the open and closed arms and the number of entries into the arms was determined using the Videotrack software. The percentage of entries into the open arms was calculated as:
(Number of entries in the open arm/Total number of entries)×100%

The number of fecal boli produced by each experimental animal during the test was also calculated. Data was analyzed between groups by unpaired t-test (GraphPad Prism).

Results

An outlier test was performed prior to inclusion results generated on individual mice in the study. One mouse from the WT group was excluded from subsequent analysis because it exhibited values for anxiety parameters that were greater than two standard deviations from the mean of the group.

The GPR26 KO mice exhibited a significantly lower total number of entries (to either the closed or open arms) than their WT littermates (P=0.0348, FIG. 12A), suggesting that the knockout of this gene may affect locomotor activity. The KO mice exhibited a trend towards a higher percentage of entries into open arms (P=0.0548, FIG. 12B). A trend towards longer time spent in open arms was also observed in the KO mice (P=0.0936, FIG. 12C). Similarly, a trend towards a longer percent of time spent in open arms was exhibited by the KO mice (P=0.0935, FIG. 12D). A trend towards higher number of fecal boli was also observed in the KO mice (P=0.0947). A comparison of the difference between time spent in the open versus closed arms revealed that the KO mice spent a significantly longer time in the open arms than the closed arms (P=0.0427, FIGS. 13A and 13B).

Taken together these data suggest that the GPR26 gene knockout produced an anxiolytic effect in the EPM paradigm. A lower total number of entries exhibited by the KO as compared to the WT mice suggested that the KO reduced locomotor activity. A reduction in the locomotor activity could contribute to the findings observed in the anxiety parameters in this assay. It is worth noting, however, that no effect of the KO on locomotion was observed in the Irwin Functional Behavioral Battery Test, Open Field Test or Comprehensive Cage Monitoring System (see Examples 9, 11 and 20).

Example 14

GPR26 Knockout Mice

Open Field Test (OF)

Thirty-two individually housed male and female mice aged 11-13 weeks were used for this experiment (eight mice of each gender and genotype). The mice were maintained on a reverse Light:Dark cycle (12 hours on:12 hours off) in a barrier facility. Food and water were available ad libitum. Testing occurred towards the end of the light cycle between 6:00 AM-12:00 (noon). Mice were acclimated to the testing room for at least 30 minutes. The assay was performed in a custom-made Open Field Apparatus. The apparatus consisted of a 50×50 cm square chamber. The experiment was recorded and tracked by a videotracking system developed by Viewpoint.

For each mouse, the total path length and the path length for 60 minutes at 5-minute intervals were determined as measures of locomotor activity. In addition, the number of fecal boli produced by each animal during the test was recorded.

The time and the path length in the center of the open field were determined as measures of anxiety-like behavior. The center of the open field was defined as a 13.5×13.5 cm square in the geometric center of the arena. The percentage of the path length spent in the center of the open field was calculated as
(Path length in the center/Total path length)×100%

The path length for 60 minutes at 5-minute intervals was analyzed by two factor ANOVAs with genotype and sex as independent variables (SPSS). All other parameters were compared using unpaired t-test (GraphPad Prism).

Results

The GPR26 KO mice traveled a significantly longer distance in the center of the open field (F1,28=5.39, P=0.028, FIG. 16A), but there was no effect or interaction with gender. However, a significant interaction between gender and genotype was detected in the percentage of the total path in the center (F1,28=4.28, P=0.048), which was due to KO males traveling a greater percentage of their total path distance in the center than WT males (P=0.0503). There were also significant interactions between gender and genotype for the time spent in the center (F1,28=4.65, P=0.04). When the anxiety measures were compared between the two groups separated by gender, the KO males traveled significantly longer distances (P=0.0343, FIG. 16C) and spent a significantly longer time (P=0.0245, FIG. 16D) in the center of the open field than the WT males. There were no differences between the KO and WT females with respect to the distance traveled or the time spent in center of the open field.

The number of fecal boli, another measure that may be related to anxiety-like behavior in the open field, was not different between the KO and WT mice.

Conclusion

The significantly increased path lengths in the center of the open field exhibited by the KO mice, along with the significantly increased path lengths and times spent in center of the open field (specifically by the KO males), suggest that the knockout of the GPR26 gene may have had an anxiolytic effect. The absence of differences between KO and WT females suggests that the anxiolytic effect was sexually dimorphic.

Example 15

GPR26 Knockout Mice

Novel Environment-Induced Feeding Suppression (NEWS) Assay

Individually housed male mice aged 10-12 weeks (10 of each genotype) were used for this experiment. The mice were maintained on a reverse Light:Dark cycle (12 hours on:12 hours off) in a barrier facility with food and water available ad libitum. The testing occurred towards the end of the light cycle between 6:00 AM and 12:00 (noon). Mice were acclimated to the testing room for at least 30 minutes.

Days 1, 2, 3 and 5 (Home Cage)

A Petri dish containing crushed Graham crackers was placed in the corner furthest from each mouse in its home cage. The time to approach (defined as the nose of the mouse directed within 1 cm of the dish) and consume the crackers (scored as eating, not just picking up or touching the food) was recorded immediately following the placement of the dish into home cage.

Day 4 (Novel Environment)

The procedure followed was the same as described for the home cage with the following adjustment: On day 4, the mouse was placed in a new cage with clean bedding (novel environment) for the duration of the experiment. The mice were subsequently returned to their respective home cages for day 5 testing.

The latency to approach and/or consume food on day 4 was used as a measure of anxiety. The times for a mouse to approach and consume the food were compared across the acclimation and experimental days by ANOVA with Bonferroni's post-hoc analyses employed for pair-wise comparisons between the experimental days.

Results

One GPR26 KO mouse did not consume the food for the entire duration of the experiment and was excluded from the analyses. There was no difference in the latency to consume between GPR26 KO and WT mice as revealed by ANOVA with genotype as the main factor (F1, 17=0.337, p=0.569). There was a significant effect of the day of testing on the latency to consume (F4, 68=11.05, p<0.0001). There was no interaction between the genotype and day of testing (F4, 68=1.212, p=0.314).

There was a significant difference in the latency to approach the food between the GPR26 KO and WT mice as revealed by ANOVA with genotype as the main factor (F1, 17=4.939, p=0.04). However, post-hoc analyses did not show any difference in the latency to approach the food on day 4 (p=0.366). There was a trend towards an effect of the day of testing on latency to approach (F4, 68=2.355, p=0.062). However, this did not reach statistical significance. There was no interaction between genotype and the day of testing (F4, 68=0.867, p=0.488).

Conclusion

There was no difference in the latency to approach or consume food between the GPR26 KO and WT mice on day 4 of the test, suggesting that the knockout of the GPR26 gene did not affect anxiety-like behavior in this experimental paradigm.

Example 16

GPR26 Knockout Mice

Tail Suspension Test (TST)

Individually housed, male GPR26 KO mice and their WT littermates aged 13-15 weeks were used for this experiment (ten mice per genotype). The mice were maintained on a reverse Light:Dark cycle (12 hours on:12 hours off) in a barrier facility. Food and water were available ad libitum. Testing occurred towards the end of the light cycle between 6:00 AM and 12:00 (noon). The mice were acclimated to the testing room for at least 30 minutes.

An automated tail suspension test apparatus (Med-Associates) was used to measure the total duration of immobility (seconds) in the tail suspension test. Using adhesive Scotch tape, each mouse was suspended by the tail on a hook connected to a strain gauge. The gauge transmitted all movements of the mouse to a central unit connected to a computer for data analysis. The total duration of immobility (defined as the cumulative time when the force of the mouse's movement is below a preset threshold criterion) was automatically calculated during the 6-minute test. The apparatus was configured as follows: gain (signal amplification)=4, threshold 1=3 and resolution=200 msec. The periods when the mouse's movements were below threshold 1 (<3) for at least 200 msec were counted as immobility time. The duration of immobility was analyzed between groups by an unpaired t-test (GraphPad Prism).

Results

The duration of immobility was not different between the GPR26 KO mice and their WT littermates (P=0.6505). An absence of difference in the immobility time suggests that the knockout of the GPR26 gene does not induce an “antidepressant”-like phenotype in the tail suspension test.

Example 17

GPR26 Knockout Mice

Startle and Pre-Pulse Inhibition Test

Individually housed male GPR26 KO mice and their WT littermates (ten of each genotype) aged 11-13 weeks were used for these experiments. The mice were maintained on a reverse Light:Dark cycle (12 hours on:12 hours off) in a barrier facility. Food and water were available ad libitum. The experiment was performed towards the end of the light phase (7:00 AM to 11:00 AM). The mice were acclimated to the procedure room for at least 30 minutes, weighed, and placed in the animal enclosures of the sound attenuating chambers (StartleMonitor, Kinder Scientific).

The effects on baseline startle response were tested on the first day. The mice were allowed to acclimate for 5 minutes inside the chambers, then presented with 6 acoustic stimuli of different intensities (duration: 40 msec at 0, 80, 90, 100, 110 and 120 dB). A total of 30 trials were presented in a pseudo-randomized manner with an average inter-trial-interval (ITI) of 15 seconds (range: 10-20 sec). Background noise of 70 dB was presented during the ITI. The StartleMonitor system and computer recorded the average amplitude of startle within a 150 msec window following each of the acoustic stimuli. Analysis of Variance (ANOVA) with Bonferroni's post-hoe analyses was used to compare the two genotypes. The mice were returned to their cages after the first day.

The effects on pre-pulse inhibition were examined on the following day. The mice were acclimated to the chamber for 5 minutes, then presented with five different trials:

1. no stimulus, where only background (70 dB) was presented,

2. 120 dB pulse alone,

3. pre-pulse of 3 dB above background followed by 120 dB pulse,

4. pre-pulse of 6 dB above background followed by 120 dB pulse, or

5. pre-pulse of 12 dB above background followed by 120 dB pulse.

Each pre-pulse was 20 msec long and preceded the 40 msec-long 120 dB pulse by 100 msec. The test session was presented in 12 blocks, each with ten trials. Blocks 1 and 12 consisted of 10 presentations of 120 dB pulses with an average ITI of 15 seconds (range: 10-20 sec). Blocks 2-11 each consisted of two presentations of each pulse type (no stimulation, 120 dB alone, pre-pulse of 3, 6 or 12 dB above background each followed by 120 dB pulse) presented in a pseudo-random manner with an average ITI of 15 seconds (range: 10-20 sec). Repeated measures ANOVA with Bonferroni's post-hoc analyses were used to compare the effect of the three pre-pulses on the startle amplitudes and the extent of pre-pulse inhibition.

Results

A main effect of pulse intensity on startle reflex amplitude was seen by ANOVA (F5, 90=76.779, p<0.0001). A main effect of genotype on startle amplitude was not observed by ANOVA (F1, 18=0.106, P=0.749) nor was an interaction between genotype and pulse amplitude (F5, 90=0.268, P=0.929).

A main effect of pre-pulse intensity on the amplitude of startle reflex was observed by ANOVA (F3, 54=101.434, p<0.0001). ANOVA did not reveal a main effect of genotype on startle reflex amplitude in the presence of a pre-pulse (F1, 18=0.815, P=0.378) or an interaction between genotype and pre-pulse intensity (F3, 54=0.604, P=0.616).

A main effect of pre-pulse amplitude was seen on percent pre-pulse inhibition by ANOVA (F2, 36=109.669, p<0.0001). There was no effect of genotype on the percent pre-pulse inhibition as revealed by ANOVA (F1, 18=0.633, P=0.437) or a significant interaction between genotype and pre-pulse amplitude (F2, 36=1.107, P=0.342).

Conclusion

An absence of differences in the baseline startle amplitude and percent pre-pulse inhibition between the KO and WT mice suggests that the GPR26 gene knockout did not affect sensorimotor gating in this paradigm.

Example 18

GPR26 Knockout Mice

Rotarod Test

Individually housed male mice aged 13-15 weeks were used for this experiment (8 animals per genotype). The mice were maintained on a reverse Light:Dark cycle (12 hours on:12 hours off) in a barrier facility. Food and water were available ad libitum. Testing occurred towards the end of the light cycle between 7:00 AM and 12:00 (noon). The mice were acclimated to the testing room for at least 30 minutes.

The assay was carried out using four EzRod test chambers kept in a laminar hood. For the accelerating rotarod paradigm, the mice were given 10 trials with the maximum duration of 3 minutes and a 30-second ITI. Each mouse was placed on the EZRod machine and the latency to fall was recorded for all of the trials. If the mouse fell or 3 minutes elapsed, the mouse was left at the bottom of EzRod test chamber for 30 seconds before the initiation of the next trial.

The latency to fall was compared between the two groups by analysis of variance (ANOVA) with repeated measures.

Results

There was no difference in the latency to fall between the GPR26 KO mice and their WT littermates as revealed by ANOVA with repeated measures (F1, 13=2.931, P=0.111). As expected, ANOVA with repeated measures showed a significant main effect of the trials (F9, 117=1.173, P=0.319).

Example 19

GPR26 Knockout Mice

Pentylenetetrazole (PTZ)-Induced Seizure Test

Individually housed GPR26 KO and WT male mice aged 16-18 weeks (ten per genotype) were used for this experiment. The mice were maintained on a reverse Light:Dark cycle (1.2 hours on:12 hours off) in a barrier facility. Food and water were available ad libitum. Testing occurred towards the end of the light cycle between 6:00 AM and 12:00 (noon). The mice were acclimated to the testing room for at least 30 minutes. The mice were placed under a heat lamp to dilate their tail veins. Each mouse was restrained in a standard PVC restraint tube (Braintree Scientific) and a butterfly needle (27G, ½ in) was inserted into the tail vein. PTZ (5 mg/ml, dissolved in saline) was pumped by an automated infusion pump (Harvard Apparatus) at a rate of 0.5 ml/min into the tail vein. The latencies to the following three seizures were recorded:

1. Facial and forelimb (FF) clonus: characterized by mouth movements as if chewing with clonic movement of the forelimbs.

2. Running bouncing clonus (RBC): a dramatic, violent whole-body clonus, including episodes of running and bouncing or jumping.

3. Tonic hind limb extensor (THE) convulsion: convulsion characterized by extreme rigidity, with forelimbs and hind limbs extended caudally and head held perpendicular to the body; this seizure was terminal.

If the infusion of PTZ occurred for three minutes without the induction of a seizure, the subject was euthanized by Xenongen Biosciences' Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) approved methods. The amount of PTZ (mg/kg) required to induce the seizure was calculated according to the following equation:

mg/ml PTZ * ( ( rate of infusion / 60 sec ) * latency to seizure ) Body weight in kg

For each seizure type an unpaired t-test (GraphPad Prism) was used to compare the two groups.

Results

There were no differences between the GPR26 KO and WT mice with respect to the average dose of PTZ required to induce the facial and forelimb clonus (P=0.1136), running-bouncing clonus (P=0.1218), or tonic hind limb extensor convulsion (P=0.1797). This indicates that knocking out the GPR26 gene did not have an effect on the susceptibility to PTZ-induced seizures.

Example 20

GPR26 Knockout Mice

Hot Plate Test

Individually housed female mice aged 13-14 weeks were used for this experiment (eight mice per genotype). The mice were maintained on a reverse Light:Dark cycle (12 hours on:12 hours off) in a barrier facility. Food and water were available ad libitum. Testing occurred towards the end of the light cycle between 6:00 AM and 12:00 (noon). The mice were acclimated to the testing room for at least 30 minutes.

The hot plate (Columbus Instruments) was placed under a laminar flow hood for the testing and set to 52° C. The hot plate was surrounded by a Plexiglass barrier to prevent the mice from escaping. Each mouse was placed on the hot plate and a timer was started simultaneously. The latency (seconds) to the first pain response (hind-paw shake or lick, escape jump) was recorded, and the mouse was immediately removed from the hot plate. If the mouse did not exhibit a pain response within 60 seconds, it was removed from the hot plate. The latency to withdrawal between the two groups was compared by the Mann-Whitney test (GraphPad Prism).

Results

The latency to the first pain response did not differ between the WT and KO mice (P=0.1949, n=8).

Example 21

GPR26 Knockout Mice

Formalin Pain Test

Individually housed, male mice (9 mice per genotype) aged 14-16 weeks were used for this experiment. The mice were maintained on a reverse Light:Dark cycle (12 hours on:12 hours off) in a barrier facility. Food and water were available ad libitum. The testing occurred towards the end of the light cycle between 6:00 AM and 12:00 (noon). The mice were acclimated to the testing room for at least 30 minutes.

After acclimation, two mice were placed into one divided shoebox cage with no bedding (one mouse on each side of the divider). The mice were habituated to the cage for 30 minutes under a laminar hood. After habituation, the mice were gently restrained and one hind paw was isolated for injection. Twenty μl of a 2% formalin solution was injected into the plantar surface of one hind paw. Two mice were simultaneously injected and immediately placed back into the shoebox cage. This cage was placed in a custom-made video chamber (Noldus) with infrared lights and a camera positioned directly under the shoebox cage. The behavior was recorded for 45 minutes and stored as a computer media file (Viewpoint, Numeriscope). The behavior media files were analyzed with The Observer (Noldus) software, and the duration of pain behavior was recorded in 5-minute bins. The duration was divided into Early Phase (0-10 minutes) and Late Phase (10-45 minutes) and analyzed between groups by unpaired t-test (GraphPad Prism).

Results

There were no differences between the GPR26 KO mice and their WT littermates in the time spent licking and biting the formalin-injected hind paw during the early (P=0.5086) or late (P=0.649) phases. A comparison of the hind paw swelling following formalin injection also failed to reveal any difference between the KO and WT mice (P=0.8521). An absence of differences in the duration of nociceptive behavior following formalin hind paw injection between the KO and WT mice suggests that the knockout of the GRP26 gene did not affect acute or chronic phases of pain induced by formalin.

Example 22

GPR26 Knockout Mice

Carrageenan-Induced Hyperalgesia Measured by the Von Frey Test

Individually housed female mice aged 15-16 weeks were used for this experiment (8 mice per genotype). The mice were maintained on a reverse Light:Dark cycle (12 hours on:12 hours off) in a barrier facility. Food and water were available ad libitum. The testing occurred towards the end of the light cycle between 6:00 AM and 12:00 (noon).

The left hind paw of each mouse was injected with 20 μl of 2% carrageenan and placed in a Plexiglass enclosure above a wire grid for habituation. The mice were tested 30 minutes after the injection to allow for habituation to the apparatus, recovery from the injection, and for the peak action of carrageenan. An automated von Frey filament (Stoelting Co., Basile Italy) was used to measure the amount of force necessary to cause a nociceptive response, i.e., paw withdrawal. The maximum amount of force allowed was 20 g, and the time to achieve this level was 20 seconds. Each hind paw of the mouse was tested twice, with approximately 5 minutes between each force measurement, for a total of four measurements per mouse. The Difference score was calculated by subtracting the mechanical threshold of the uninjected hind paw from the injected hind paw:
Difference score=Mech. threshold (uninjected)−Mech. threshold (injected)

The Difference score of WT and KO mice was compared using the Mann-Whitney test (GraphPad Prism).

Results

The difference scores of the WT and GRP26 KO mice (P=0.9591) did not differ significantly, suggesting that the knockout of the GPR26 gene did not have an effect on the carrageenan-induced mechanical hyperalgesia.

Example 23

GPR26 Knockout Mice

Metabolism and Activity in the Comprehensive Cage Monitoring System

Nineteen to twenty-one week old male mice were used for this assay (8 mice per genotype). The mice were maintained on a reverse Light:Dark cycle (12 hours on:12 hours off) in a barrier facility. Food and water were available ad libitum.

The Comprehensive Cage Monitoring System (CCMS from Columbus Instruments, Columbus, Ohio) allows long-term, automated, non-invasive collection of 9 parameters simultaneously in 16 individual animals.

The CCMS is comprised of 16 individual units. For this study, the experimental window lasted 48 hours and began and ended at the start of the dark phase. During that time, the following parameters were measured:

VO2—oxygen consumption in ml/kg/hr (calculated by Oxymax software using O2 differential and body weight)

VCO2— carbon dioxide production in ml/kg/hr (calculated by Oxymax software using CO2 differential and body weight)

RER—respiratory exchange ratio (VCO2/VO2) (calculated by Oxymax software)

Heat—kcal/kg/hr (calculated by Oxymax software using O2 consumption, CO2 production and body weight)

Total X (Horizontal) Activity—measured by infra-red (IR) beams and detectors; activity was scored whenever a beam was broken

X (Horizontal) Ambulatory Activity—measured by IR beams and detectors; activity was scored only when two different beams were broken sequentially

Z (Vertical) Activity—measured by IR beams and detectors; both rearing and licking activity were scored.

Licking frequency—measured electronically when the mouse touched the water dispenser to complete a low current circuit

X non-ambulatory Activity—calculated by subtracting X ambulatory counts from X total counts

Oxygen and carbon dioxide concentrations were measured sequentially in the 16 units. The time required for a single round of gas measurements in all of the chambers was defined as an interval. The interval lengths may have varied slightly depending on the environmental parameters of the room (temperature and humidity) and the physiological parameters of the experimental mice. On average, each interval was 48 minutes long. The exact time that an interval ended for each chamber is part of the output generated by the CCMS software. All of the activity endpoints described above were the cumulative values counted by the detectors during each interval.

In order to separately analyze dark and light phases, all of the data were summed into individual days and photoperiods. Data were analyzed by a repeated measures ANOVA with body weight as a covariate in the metabolic endpoints except for RER.

Comprehensive Cage Monitoring System—Metabolic

The following endpoints were included:

VO2

VCO2

RER

Heat

Body weights of the animals were taken before placing the mice in the CCMS chambers and when they were removed after 48 hours. The initial body weights were used by the software to automatically calculate some of the endpoints.

Comprehensive Cage Monitoring System—Activity

The following endpoints were included:

Total horizontal activity

Ambulatory horizontal activity

Non-ambulatory horizontal activity

Vertical activity

Licking frequency

Results of Comprehensive Cage Monitoring System—Metabolic Measures By Photoperiod

Analysis of the metabolic endpoints in the CCMS revealed a decrease in the metabolic rate in the KO group compared to that of the controls, as evidenced by lower oxygen consumption (F1,13=10.34, P=0.007, FIG. 17A), CO2 production (F1,13=5.28, P=0.039, FIG. 17B) and decreased heat production (F1,13=10.70, P=0.006, FIG. 17D) by the KO group. The RER quotient did not differ significantly between genotypes (FIG. 17C). The results are presented as mean±SEM with the data summed for the dark (D) phases and the light (L) phases.

Results of Comprehensive Cage Monitoring System—Metabolic Measures by Time Interval

The results are presented as mean±SEM with dark and light phases demarked with a dashed line (FIGS. 18A-18D),

Results of Comprehensive Cage Monitoring System—Activity Measures by Photoperiod

Analysis of the activity endpoints (measured for 48 hours in 12-hour photoperiods) revealed no significant differences between genotypes in any of the measurements (FIGS. 19A-19E). There did appear to be a trend towards an interaction between the light phase and ambulatory activity in the X (horizontal) plane (F3,42=2.33, P=0.088, FIG. 19B). This is most clearly observed in the data graphed in time intervals where the KO mice were less active than WTs in the dark phase immediately after being placed in the cage, but activity of the KOs at the beginning of the second dark phase were higher than that of the WTs. The results are presented as mean±SEM with the data summed for the dark (D) phases and the light (L) phases.

Results of Comprehensive Cage Monitoring System—Activity Measures by Time Interval

The results are presented as means±SEM, with the dark and light phases demarked with a dashed line (FIGS. 20A-20E).

Conclusions

The results from the CCMS study found that the KO mice had reduced metabolic activity compared to the WT controls. However, this reduced metabolic activity was not correlated with a reduced level of activity as measured in the activity measures in the CCMS. Minor changes were found in horizontal ambulatory activity, but they do not explain the reduced metabolic activity. There were no differences between the genotypes in rearing activity or contact with the drinking spout.

Example 24

GPR26 Knockout Mice

Hematology of the Peripheral Blood

20-22 week old male GPR26 KO and Box 129 WT mice were used for this assay (5 mice per genotype). Blood was collected via the retro-orbital vein under isoflurane anesthesia. The hematological analysis of the peripheral blood obtained from five KU and five WT mice was performed on the Hemavet Multispecies Hematology Analyzer (CDC Technologies). An unpaired t-test (GraphPad Prism) was used to analyze differences between genotypes for each parameter.

Results

There were no statistically significant differences between the KO and WT groups for any cell types.

Example 25

GPR26 Knockout Mice

Clinical Blood Chemistries

20-22 week old male mice were used for this assay (eight animals per genotype). The mice were maintained on a reverse Light:Dark cycle (12 hours on:12 hours off) in a barrier facility. Food and water were available ad libitum. Blood was collected via cardiac puncture under Isoflurane anesthesia. The collected blood was allowed to coagulate for 30 minutes at room temperature and then centrifuged at 1000 g for 15 minutes at 4° C. The serum was analyzed on an ACE clinical chemistry analyzer (Alfa Wassermann) using the manufacturer's reagents according to the manual. An unpaired t-test (GraphPad Prism) was used to analyze differences between the groups of mice for each parameter. The following analytes were tested: Albumin, total protein, alkaline phosphatase, alanine aminotransferase, aspartate aminotransferase, lactate dehydrogenase, amylase, creatinine kinase, blood urea nitrogen, calcium, total bilirubin, creatinine, triglycerides, lactate, phosphorus, uric acid, magnesium, thyroxine, sodium, potassium, chloride, globulin, and A/G ratio.

Results

There were no statistically significant differences between the KO and WT groups with respect to any of the tested analytes. However, differences between the group means in three chemistries approached statistical significance (P≦0.1):

Group Analyte Unit KO Mean KO SD WT Mean WT SD P-value Amylase u/L 1026.50 75.21 1399.38 534.94 0.071 Thyoxine ug/dL 4.81 0.46 5.19 0.38 0.095 Chloride mmol/L 110.40 2.70 108.25 1.67 0.101

The decrease in thyroxine levels in the KO mice may be related to their lower metabolism.

Example 26

GPR26 Knockout Mice

Selected Organ Weights

19-22 week old male and female mice were used for this assay (eight males and three females per genotype). Prior to the experiment, the mice were maintained on a reverse Light:Dark cycle (12 hours on:12 hours off) in a barrier facility. Food and water were available ad libitum. To collect the tissues, the mice were euthanized by an overdose of inhaled Isoflurane. The following organs were dissected and weighed: the gastrocnemius muscle, liver, spleen, right kidney (the capsule stripped), heart, and trachea and lungs as one unit. An unpaired t-test (GraphPad prism) was used to analyze differences between the groups of mice for each parameter. Males and females were analyzed separately.

Results

There were no significant differences in organ weights between the KO and WT males. The KO females, however, appeared to have smaller hearts (P=0.0231) and livers (P=0.0087).

Discussion

Until the time of this invention, there had been no reports regarding the identification of any ligands or molecules with ability to activate GPR78 or GPR26. This report identifies certain isoflavones as activating ligands for GPR78 and GPR26. This report also identifies certain antagonists of GPR78 and GPR26.

Genistein is able to stimulate intracellular cAMP production in cells expressing GPR78 or GPR26. Stimulation of GPR78-mediated cAMP production by genistein is ligand/receptor-specific. However, there may be other naturally occurring ligands in human and other mammals for the GPR78 polypeptide and/or the GPR26 polypeptide. More extensive screening of collections of a variety of known molecules or tissue extracts to identify other potential ligands for GPR78 and GPR26 can be performed using only routine experimentation according to the methods described herein.

The signal transduction pathway for genistein-activated GPR78 and GPR26 is linked to the Gs protein family. The restrictive Gs-only signaling by GPR78 indicates a selective action of genistein through GPR78 and GPR26. This provides a highly regulated pathway for genistein to exert a selective set of physiological functions. Maggiolini M. et al described ability of genistein to activate GPR30 through a Gβγ gamma-mediated pathway with potency in the low μM range ([25]). Therefore, the action of genistein on GPR30 appears to be distinctively different from that on GPR78 [29]; [30]. Activation of GPR30 by both estrogen and genistein suggest that GPR30 mediates at least some of the estrogen-like functions of genistein. In contrast, GPR78 is activated by genistein but not estrogen, suggesting that GPR78 mediates some of the genistein functions independent of those of estrogen.

The widespread expression of GPR78 is consistent with genistein's variety of physiological functions. Detection of GPR78 in placenta and pituitary gland ([19]) as well as in urethra, nasal and oral mucosa, esophagus, tonsil and joint tissue (FIG. 9A) indicates that genistein may mediate through activation of GPR78 hormone-related processes, inflammatory states, and pathways in the digestive system. Detection of GPR78 expression in cortex, amygdala, putamen, hippocampus, VTA and cerebellum (FIG. 9A) suggests that GPR78 may regulate functions in the central nervous systems as well, which may provide a mechanism for treating these disorders. GPR26 expression is more restricted in the brain regions in human (FIG. 9B). This data suggests an action of genistein mediated by GPR26 in the central nervous system. Genistein has been shown to exert a number of neurological functions in the central nervous system, including learning and memory, anxiety, and other behaviors ([32]; [33]; [34]). Genistein has also been implicated in stress and pain modulation ([35]) as well as in modulation of neurotransmitters such as serotonin and acetylcholine ([36]; [37]). Expression of both GPR78 and GPR26 abundantly in the brain suggests roles of the two receptors in CNS functions modulated by genistein, which may or may not related to pathways of estrogen.

The data indicates that GPR78 and GPR26 are constitutively active GPCRs. Consistently, GPR26 has been found constitutively active by Lee et al. ([38]). In addition, Bresnick et al. ([39]) found that expression of GPR26 mediated by retrovirus resulted in a significantly higher basal level of cAMP.

In summary, certain isoflavones have been identified as activating ligands for the orphan GPR78 and GPR26 polypeptides with a signaling pathway restricted to Gs protein family. The identification of a ligand and for GPR78 and GPR26 will aid in understanding physiological functions of these receptors and the physiological roles that genistein mediates in central and peripheral systems, and in identifying compounds that could be used to treat or prevent GPR78- and/or GPR26-mediated disorders. In addition, the discovery provides tools for identification of receptor-specific agonists and antagonists that may prove useful pharmaceutical agents to treat various GPR78- and/or GPR26-mediated disorders, such as anxiety disorders and metabolic disorders.

Sequences:

SEQ ID NO:1 refers GenBank Accession No. NP543009.

SEQ ID NO:2 refers to GenBank Accession No. NM08019.

SEQ ID NO: 3 refers to GenBank Accession No. NP703143.

SEQ ID NO: 4 refers to GenBank Accession No. NM153442.

Abbreviations:

cAMP, 3′,5′-cyclic adenosine monophosphate

cre, cAMP response element

luc, luciferase

GPR, guanine nucleotide binding proteins-coupled receptor

H89, N-[2-(p-bromocinnamylamino) ethyl]-5-isoquinolinesulfonamide dihydrochloride

SQ22536, 9-(Tetrahydro-2-furanyl)-9H-purin-6-amine

MDL-12,330A, cis-N-(2-Phenylcyclopentyl)-azacyclotridec-1-en-2-amine hydrochloride

IBMX, 3-isobutyl-1-methylxanthine

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Claims

1. A method for identifying a modulator of the G protein-coupled receptor 78 (GPR78) or G protein-coupled receptor 26 (GPR26) polypeptide, comprising:
a) contacting the GPR78 or GPR26 polypeptide or a fragment thereof with a ligand of the GPR78 or GPR26 polypeptide in the presence and absence of a test sample, wherein the GPR78 or GPR26 ligand is selected from the group consisting of: isoflavone or an analog thereof, genistein or an analog thereof and daidzein or an analog of thereof; and
b) measuring the activity of the GPR78 or GPR26 polypeptide, wherein a modulator of the GPR78 or GPR26 polypeptide in the test sample is identified by measuring a change in the activity of the GPR78 or GPR26 polypeptide in the presence and absence of the test sample.
a) contacting the GPR78 or GPR26 polypeptide or a fragment thereof with a ligand of the GPR78 or GPR26 polypeptide in the presence and absence of a test sample, wherein the GPR78 or GPR26 ligand is selected from the group consisting of: isoflavone or an analog thereof, genistein or an analog thereof and daidzein or an analog of thereof; and
b) measuring the activity of the GPR78 or GPR26 polypeptide, wherein a modulator of the GPR78 or GPR26 polypeptide in the test sample is identified by measuring a change in the activity of the GPR78 or GPR26 polypeptide in the presence and absence of the test sample.
2. The method of claim 1, wherein the GPR78 or GPR26 ligand is isoflavone or an analog thereof.
3. The method of claim 1, wherein the GPR78 or GPR26 ligand is genistein, daidzein, an analog of genistein or an analog of daidzein.
4. The method of claim 1, wherein the modulator is an agonist of the GPR78 or GPR26 polypeptide.
5. The method of claim 1, wherein the modulator is an antagonist of the GPR78 or GPR26 polypeptide.