The interaction between the short 88Ser-Arg-Ser-Arg-Tyr92 sequence of the urokinase receptor (uPAR) and the formyl peptide receptor type 1 (FPR1) elicits cell migration. We generated the Ac-(D)-Tyr-(D)-Arg-Aib-(D)-Arg-NH2 (RI-3) peptide which inhibits the uPAR/FPR1 interaction, reducing migration of FPR1 expressing cells toward N-formyl-methionyl-leucyl-phenylalanine (fMLF) and Ser-Arg-Ser-Arg-Tyr (SRSRY) peptides. To understand the structural basis of the RI-3 inhibitory effects, the FPR1/fMLF, FPR1/SRSRY and FPR1/RI-3 complexes were modeled and analyzed, focusing on the binding pocket of FPR1 and the interaction between the amino acids that signal to the FPR1 C-terminal loop. We found that RI-3 shares the same binding site of fMLF and SRSRY on FPR1. However, while fMLF and SRSRY display the same agonist activation signature (i.e. the series of contacts that transmit the conformational transition throughout the complex), translating binding into signaling, RI-3 does not interact with the activation region of FPR1 and hence does not activate signaling. Indeed, fluorescein-conjugated RI-3 prevents either fMLF and SRSRY uptake on FPR1 without triggering FPR1 internalization and cell motility in the absence of any stimulus. Collectively, our data show that RI-3 is a true FPR1 antagonist and suggest a pharmacophore model useful for development of compounds that selectively inhibit the uPAR-triggered, FPR1-mediated cell migration.
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