Imperial College London

Dr Alejandra Tomas

Faculty of MedicineDepartment of Metabolism, Digestion and Reproduction

Senior Lecturer



+44 (0)20 7594 3364a.tomas-catala Website CV




329ICTEM buildingHammersmith Campus





Publication Type

68 results found

El Eid L, Reynolds CA, Tomas A, Ben Joneset al., 2022, Biased agonism and polymorphic variation at the GLP-1 receptor: Implications for the development of personalised therapeutics., Pharmacol Res, Vol: 184

Glucagon-like peptide-1 receptor (GLP-1R) is a well-studied incretin hormone receptor and target of several therapeutic drugs for type 2 diabetes (T2D), obesity and, more recently, cardiovascular disease. Some signalling pathways downstream of GLP-1R may be responsible for drug adverse effects such as nausea, while others mediate therapeutic outcomes of incretin-based T2D therapeutics. Understanding the interplay between different factors that alter signalling, trafficking, and receptor activity, including biased agonism, single nucleotide polymorphisms and structural modifications is key to develop the next-generation of personalised GLP-1R agonists. However, these interactions remain poorly described, especially for novel therapeutics such as dual and tri-agonists that target more than one incretin receptor. Comparison of GLP-1R structures in complex with G proteins and different peptide and non-peptide agonists has revealed novel insights into important agonist-residue interactions and networks crucial for receptor activation, recruitment of G proteins and engagement of specific signalling pathways. Here, we review the latest knowledge on GLP-1R structure and activation, providing structural evidence for biased agonism and delineating important networks associated with this phenomenon. We survey current biased agonists and multi-agonists at different stages of development, highlighting possible challenges in their translational potential. Lastly, we discuss findings related to non-synonymous genomic variants of GLP1R and the functional importance of specific residues involved in GLP-1R function. We propose that studies of GLP-1R polymorphisms, and specifically their effect on receptor dynamics and pharmacology in response to biased agonists, could have a significant impact in delineating precision medicine approaches and development of novel therapeutics.

Journal article

McGlone ER, Dunsterville C, Carling D, tomas A, Bloom S, Tan T, Jones Bet al., 2022, Hepatocyte cholesterol content modulates glucagon receptor signalling, Molecular Metabolism, Vol: 63, ISSN: 2212-8778

ObjectiveTo determine whether glucagon receptor (GCGR) actions are modulated by cellular cholesterol levels.MethodsWe determined the effects of experimental cholesterol depletion and loading on glucagon-mediated cAMP production, ligand internalisation and glucose production in human hepatoma cells, mouse and human hepatocytes. GCGR interactions with lipid bilayers were explored using coarse-grained molecular dynamic simulations. Glucagon responsiveness was measured in mice fed a high cholesterol diet with or without simvastatin to modulate hepatocyte cholesterol content.ResultsGCGR cAMP signalling was reduced by higher cholesterol levels across different cellular models. Ex vivo glucagon-induced glucose output from mouse hepatocytes was enhanced by simvastatin treatment. Mice fed a high cholesterol diet had increased hepatic cholesterol and a blunted hyperglycaemic response to glucagon, both of which were partially reversed by simvastatin. Simulations identified likely membrane-exposed cholesterol binding sites on the GCGR, including a site where cholesterol is a putative negative allosteric modulator.ConclusionsOur results indicate that cellular cholesterol content influences glucagon sensitivity and indicate a potential molecular basis for this phenomenon. This could be relevant to the pathogenesis of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, which is associated with both hepatic cholesterol accumulation and glucagon resistance.

Journal article

Manchanda Y, Bitsi S, Chen S, Broichhagen J, de la Serna JB, Jones B, Tomas Aet al., 2022, An examination of the divergent spatiotemporal signaling of GLP-1R <i>versus</i> GIPR in pancreatic beta cells

<jats:title>Abstract</jats:title><jats:p>The incretin receptors, glucagon-like peptide-1 receptor (GLP-1R) and glucose-dependent insulinotropic polypeptide receptor (GIPR), are class B GPCRs and prime therapeutic targets for the treatment of type 2 diabetes (T2D) and obesity. They are expressed in pancreatic beta cells where they potentiate insulin release in response to food intake. Despite GIP being the main incretin in healthy individuals, GLP-1R has been favoured <jats:italic>versus</jats:italic> GIPR as a therapeutic target due to GIPR responses being blunted in T2D patients and the conflicting effects of GIPR agonists and antagonists in improving glucose tolerance and preventing weight gain. There is, however, a recently renewed interest in GIPR biology following the realisation that GIPR responses can be restored after an initial period of blood glucose normalization and the recent development of dual GLP-1R-GIPR agonists with superior capacity for the control of blood glucose levels and weight. The importance of GLP-1R trafficking and subcellular signaling in the control of receptor outputs is well established, but little is known about the pattern of spatiotemporal signaling from the GIPR in beta cells. Here we have directly compared the main trafficking and signaling characteristics of both receptors in pancreatic beta cells, finding striking differences in their propensities for internalization, recycling, and degradation, as well as plasma membrane <jats:italic>versus</jats:italic> endosomal activity, with potential implications for receptor-specific control of beta cell function.</jats:p>

Journal article

Jones B, Burade V, Akalestou E, Manchanda Y, Ramchunder Z, Carrat G, Nguyen-Tu M-S, Marchetti P, Piemonti L, Leclerc I, Thennati R, Vilsboll T, Thorens B, Tomas A, Rutter GAet al., 2022, In vivo and in vitro characterization of GL0034, a novel long-acting glucagon-like peptide-1 receptor agonist, DIABETES OBESITY & METABOLISM, Vol: 24, Pages: 2090-2101, ISSN: 1462-8902

Journal article

Cheung R, Pizza G, Chabosseau P, Rolando D, Tomas A, Burgoyne T, Wu Z, Salowka A, Thapa A, Macklin A, Cao Y, Nguyen-Tu M-S, Dickerson MT, Jacobson DA, Marchetti P, Shapiro J, Piemonti L, de Koning E, Leclerc I, Bouzakri K, Sakamoto K, Smith DM, Rutter GA, Martinez-Sanchez Aet al., 2022, Glucose-Dependent miR-125b Is a Negative Regulator of β-Cell Function., Diabetes, Vol: 71, Pages: 1525-1545

Impaired pancreatic β-cell function and insulin secretion are hallmarks of type 2 diabetes. miRNAs are short, noncoding RNAs that silence gene expression vital for the development and function of β cells. We have previously shown that β cell-specific deletion of the important energy sensor AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) results in increased miR-125b-5p levels. Nevertheless, the function of this miRNA in β cells is unclear. We hypothesized that miR-125b-5p expression is regulated by glucose and that this miRNA mediates some of the deleterious effects of hyperglycemia in β cells. Here, we show that islet miR-125b-5p expression is upregulated by glucose in an AMPK-dependent manner and that short-term miR-125b-5p overexpression impairs glucose-stimulated insulin secretion (GSIS) in the mouse insulinoma MIN6 cells and in human islets. An unbiased, high-throughput screen in MIN6 cells identified multiple miR-125b-5p targets, including the transporter of lysosomal hydrolases M6pr and the mitochondrial fission regulator Mtfp1. Inactivation of miR-125b-5p in the human β-cell line EndoCβ-H1 shortened mitochondria and enhanced GSIS, whereas mice overexpressing miR-125b-5p selectively in β cells (MIR125B-Tg) were hyperglycemic and glucose intolerant. MIR125B-Tg β cells contained enlarged lysosomal structures and had reduced insulin content and secretion. Collectively, we identify miR-125b as a glucose-controlled regulator of organelle dynamics that modulates insulin secretion.

Journal article

Rodriguez T, 2022, DRP1 levels determine the apoptotic threshold during embryonic differentiation through a mitophagy dependent mechanism, Developmental Cell, Vol: 57, Pages: 1316-1330.e7, ISSN: 1534-5807

The changes that drive differentiation facilitate the emergence of abnormal cells that need to be removed before they contribute to further development or the germline. Consequently, in mice in the lead-up to gastrulation, ∼35% of embryonic cells are eliminated. This elimination is caused by hypersensitivity to apoptosis, but how it is regulated is poorly understood. Here, we show that upon exit of naive pluripotency, mouse embryonic stem cells lower their mitochondrial apoptotic threshold, and this increases their sensitivity to cell death. We demonstrate that this enhanced apoptotic response is induced by a decrease in mitochondrial fission due to a reduction in the activity of dynamin-related protein 1 (DRP1). Furthermore, we show that in naive pluripotent cells, DRP1 prevents apoptosis by promoting mitophagy. In contrast, during differentiation, reduced mitophagy levels facilitate apoptosis. Together, these results indicate that during early mammalian development, DRP1 regulation of mitophagy determines the apoptotic response.

Journal article

Georgiadou E, Muralidharan C, Martinez M, Chabosseau P, Akalestou E, Tomas A, Yong Su Wern F, Stylianides T, Wretlind A, Legido-Quigley C, Jones B, Lopez Noriega L, Xu Y, Gu G, Alsabeeh N, Cruciani-Guglielmacci C, Magnan C, Ibberson M, Leclerc I, Ali Y, Soleimanpour SA, Linnemann AK, Rodriguez TA, Rutter GAet al., 2022, Mitofusins Mfn1 and Mfn2 are required to preserve glucose- but not incretin-stimulated beta cell connectivity and insulin secretion, Diabetes, Vol: 71, Pages: 1472-1489, ISSN: 0012-1797

Mitochondrial glucose metabolism is essential for stimulated insulin release from pancreatic beta cells. Whether mitofusin gene expression, and hence mitochondrial network integrity, is important for glucose or incretin signalling has not previously been explored. Here, we generated mice with beta cell-selective, adult-restricted deletion of the mitofusin genes Mfn1 and Mfn2 (βMfn1/2 dKO). βMfn1/2 dKO mice displayed elevated fed and fasted glycaemia and a >five-fold decrease in plasma insulin. Mitochondrial length, glucose-induced polarisation, ATP synthesis, cytosolic and mitochondrial Ca2+ increases were all reduced in dKO islets. In contrast, oral glucose tolerance was more modestly affected in βMfn1/2 dKO mice and GLP-1 or GIP receptor agonists largely corrected defective GSIS through enhanced EPAC-dependent signalling. Correspondingly, cAMP increases in the cytosol, as measured with an Epac-camps based sensor, were exaggerated in dKO mice. Mitochondrial fusion and fission cycles are thus essential in the beta cell to maintain normal glucose, but not incretin, sensing. These findings broaden our understanding of the roles of mitofusins in beta cells, the potential contributions of altered mitochondrial dynamics to diabetes development and the impact of incretins on this process.

Journal article

Bitsi S, Manchanda Y, ElEid L, Mohamed N, Hansen B, Suba K, Rutter GA, Salem V, Jones B, Tomas Aet al., 2022, Divergent acute <i>versus</i> prolonged pharmacological GLP-1R responses in adult beta cell-selective β-arrestin 2 knockout mice

<jats:title>Abstract</jats:title><jats:p>The glucagon-like peptide-1 receptor (GLP-1R) is a major therapeutic target in type 2 diabetes (T2D) and obesity. Following activation, GLP-1Rs are rapidly desensitised by β-arrestins, scaffolding proteins that terminate G protein interactions but also act as independent signalling mediators. While GLP-1R interacts with β-arrestins 1 and 2, expression of the latter is greatly enhanced in beta cells, making this the most relevant isoform. Here, we have assessed <jats:italic>in vivo</jats:italic> glycaemic responses to the pharmacological GLP-1R agonist exendin-4 in adult beta cell-selective β-arrestin 2 knockout (KO) mice. Lean female and high-fat, high-sucrose-fed KO mice of both sexes displayed worse acute responses <jats:italic>versus</jats:italic> control littermates, an effect that was inverted 6 hours post-agonist injection, resulting in prolonged <jats:italic>in vivo</jats:italic> cell-cell connectivity in KO islets implanted in mouse eyes. Similar effects were observed for the clinically relevant semaglutide and tirzepatide but not with exendin-phe1, an agonist biased away from β-arrestin recruitment. <jats:italic>Ex vivo</jats:italic> acute cAMP was impaired, but overnight desensitisation was reduced in KO islets. The acute signalling defect was attributed to enhanced β-arrestin 1 and phosphodiesterase (PDE) 4 activity in the absence of β-arrestin 2, while the reduced desensitisation correlated with altered GLP-1R trafficking, involving impaired recycling and lysosomal targeting and increased trans-Golgi network (TGN) localisation and signalling, as well as reduced GLP-1R ubiquitination by the E3 ubiquitin ligase NEDD4. This study has unveiled fundamental aspects of the role of β-arrestin 2 in regulating pharmacological GLP-1R responses with direct application to the rational design of improved GLP-1R-targeting therape

Journal article

Davies A, Tomas A, 2022, Appreciating the potential for GPCR crosstalk with ion channels, Progress in Molecular Biology and Translational Science

G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) are expressed by most tissues in the body and are exploited pharmacologically in a variety of pathological conditions including diabetes, cardiovascular disease, neurological diseases, and cancers. Numerous cell signaling pathways can be regulated by GPCR activation, depending on the specific GPCR, ligand and cell type. Ion channels are among the many effector proteins downstream of these signaling pathways. Saliently, ion channels are also recognized as druggable targets, and there is evidence that their activity may regulate GPCR function via membrane potential and cytoplasmic ion concentration. Overall, there appears to be a large potential for crosstalk between ion channels and GPCRs. This might have implications not only for targeting GPCRs for drug development, but also opens the possibility of co-targeting them with ion channels to achieve improved therapeutic outcomes. In this review, we highlight the large variety of possible GPCR-ion channel crosstalk modes.

Book chapter

Manchanda Y, Ramchunder Z, Shchepinova MM, Rutter GA, Inoue A, Tate EW, Jones B, Tomas Aet al., 2021, Expression of mini-G proteins specifically halt cognate GPCR trafficking and intracellular signalling

<jats:title>Abstract</jats:title><jats:p>Mini-G proteins are engineered thermostable variants of Gα subunits designed to specifically stabilise G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) in their active conformation for structural analyses. Due to their smaller size and ease of use, they have become popular tools in recent years to assess specific GPCR behaviours in cells, both as reporters of receptor coupling to each G protein subtype and for in-cell assays designed to quantify compartmentalised receptor signalling from a range of subcellular locations. Here, we describe a previously unappreciated consequence of the co-expression of mini-G proteins with their cognate GPCRs, namely a profound disruption in GPCR trafficking and intracellular signalling caused by the co-expression of the specific mini-G subtype coupled to the affected receptor. We studied the Gαs-coupled pancreatic beta cell class B GPCR glucagon-like peptide-1 receptor (GLP-1R) as a model to describe in detail the molecular consequences derived from this effect, including a complete halt in β-arrestin-2 recruitment and receptor internalisation, despite near-normal levels of receptor GRK2 recruitment and lipid nanodomain segregation, as well as the disruption of endosomal GLP-1R signalling by mini-G<jats:sub>s</jats:sub> co-expression. We also extend our analysis to a range of other prototypical GPCRs covering the spectrum of Gα subtype coupling preferences, to unveil a widely conserved phenomenon of GPCR internalisation blockage by specific mini-G proteins coupled to a particular receptor. Our results have important implications for the design of methods to assess intracellular GPCR signalling. We also present an alternative adapted bystander intracellular signalling assay for the GLP-1R in which we substitute the mini-G<jats:sub>s</jats:sub> by a nanobody, Nb37, with specificity for active Gαs:GPCR complexes and no deleterious effect o

Journal article

McGlone ER, Ansell TB, Dunsterville C, Song W, Carling D, Tomas A, Bloom SR, Sansom MSP, Tan T, Jones Bet al., 2021, Hepatocyte cholesterol content modulates glucagon receptor signalling, Publisher: Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory

<jats:title>Summary</jats:title><jats:p>Glucagon decreases liver fat, and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is associated with hepatic glucagon resistance. Increasingly it is recognised that the function of G protein-coupled receptors can be regulated by their local plasma membrane lipid environment. The aim of this study was to evaluate the effects of experimentally modulating hepatocyte cholesterol content on the function of the glucagon receptor (GCGR). We found that glucagon-mediated cAMP production is inversely proportional to cholesterol content of human hepatoma and primary mouse hepatocytes after treatment with cholesterol-depleting and loading agents, with ligand internalisation showing the opposite trend. Mice fed a high cholesterol diet had increased hepatic cholesterol and a blunted hyperglycaemic response to glucagon, both of which were partially reversed by simvastatin. Molecular dynamics simulations identified potential membrane-exposed cholesterol binding sites on the GCGR. Overall, our data suggest that increased hepatocyte membrane cholesterol could directly contribute to glucagon resistance in NAFLD.</jats:p>

Working paper

de Jesus DS, Mak TCS, Wang Y-F, von Ohlen Y, Bai Y, Kane E, Chabosseau P, Chahrour CM, Distaso W, Salem V, Tomas A, Stoffel M, Rutter GA, Latreille Met al., 2021, Dysregulation of the Pdx1/Ovol2/Zeb2 axis in dedifferentiated β-cells triggers the induction of genes associated with epithelial-mesenchymal transition in diabetes, Molecular Metabolism, Vol: 53, ISSN: 2212-8778

OBJECTIVE: β-cell dedifferentiation has been revealed as a pathological mechanism underlying pancreatic dysfunction in diabetes. We previously showed that increased miR-7 levels trigger β-cell dedifferentiation and diabetes. We used β-cell-specific miR-7 overexpressing mice (Tg7) to test the hypothesis that loss of β-cell identity triggered by miR-7 overexpression alters islet gene expression and islet microenvironment in diabetes. METHODS: We performed bulk and single-cell RNA sequencing (RNA-seq) in islets obtained from β-cell-specific miR-7 overexpressing mice (Tg7). We carried out loss- and gain-of-function experiments in MIN6 and EndoC-bH1 cell lines. We analysed previously published mouse and human T2D data sets. RESULTS: Bulk RNA-seq revealed that β-cell dedifferentiation is associated with the induction of genes associated with epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT) in prediabetic (2-week-old) and diabetic (12-week-old) Tg7 mice. Single-cell RNA-seq (scRNA-seq) indicated that this EMT signature is enriched specifically in β-cells. These molecular changes are associated with a weakening of β-cell: β-cell contacts, increased extracellular matrix (ECM) deposition, and TGFβ-dependent islet fibrosis. We found that the mesenchymal reprogramming of β-cells is explained in part by the downregulation of Pdx1 and its inability to regulate a myriad of epithelial-specific genes expressed in β-cells. Notable among genes transactivated by Pdx1 is Ovol2, which encodes a transcriptional repressor of the EMT transcription factor Zeb2. Following compromised β-cell identity, the reduction in Pdx1 gene expression causes a decrease in Ovol2 protein, triggering mesenchymal reprogramming of β-cells through the induction of Zeb2. We provided evidence that EMT signalling associated with the upregulation of Zeb2 expression is a molecular feature of islets in T2D subjects. CONCLUSIONS: Our study indicates that m

Journal article

McGlone ER, Manchanda Y, Jones B, Pickford P, Inoue A, Carling D, Bloom S, Tan T, Tomas Aet al., 2021, Receptor Activity-Modifying Protein 2 (RAMP2) alters glucagon receptor trafficking in hepatocytes with functional effects on receptor signalling, Molecular Metabolism, Vol: 53, Pages: 1-11, ISSN: 2212-8778

ObjectivesReceptor Activity-Modifying Protein 2 (RAMP2) is a chaperone protein which allosterically binds to and interacts with the glucagon receptor (GCGR). The aims of this study were to investigate the effects of RAMP2 on GCGR trafficking and signalling in the liver, where glucagon (GCG) is important for carbohydrate and lipid metabolism.MethodsSubcellular localisation of GCGR in the presence and absence of RAMP2 was investigated using confocal microscopy, trafficking and radioligand binding assays in human embryonic kidney (HEK293T) and human hepatoma (Huh7) cells. Mouse embryonic fibroblasts (MEFs) lacking Wiskott Aldrich Syndrome protein and scar homologue (WASH) complex and the trafficking inhibitor monensin were used to investigate the effect of a halt in recycling of internalised proteins on GCGR subcellular localisation and signalling in the absence of RAMP2. NanoBiT complementation and cyclic AMP assays were used to study the functional effect of RAMP2 on the recruitment and activation of GCGR signalling mediators. Response to hepatic RAMP2 up-regulation in lean and obese adult mice using a bespoke adeno-associated viral vector was also studied.ResultsGCGR is predominantly localised at the plasma membrane in the absence of RAMP2 and exhibits remarkably slow internalisation in response to agonist stimulation. Rapid intracellular accumulation of GCG-stimulated GCGR in cells lacking WASH complex or in the presence of monensin indicates that activated GCGRs undergo continuous cycles of internalisation and recycling despite apparent GCGR plasma membrane localisation up to 40 minutes post-stimulation. Co-expression of RAMP2 induces GCGR internalisation both basally and in response to agonist stimulation. The intracellular retention of GCGR in the presence of RAMP2 confers a bias away from β-arrestin-2 recruitment coupled to increased activation of Gαs proteins at endosomes. This is associated with increased short-term efficacy for glucagon-stimulated

Journal article

Lucey M, Ashik T, Marzook A, Wang Y, Goulding J, Oishi A, Broichhagen J, Hodson D, Minnion J, Elani Y, Jockers R, Briddon S, Bloom S, Tomas A, Jones Bet al., 2021, Acylation of the incretin peptide exendin-4 directly impacts GLP-1 receptor signalling and trafficking, Molecular Pharmacology, Vol: 100, Pages: 319-334, ISSN: 0026-895X

The glucagon-like peptide-1 receptor (GLP-1R) is a class B G protein-coupled receptor and mainstay therapeutic target for the treatment of type 2 diabetes and obesity. Recent reports have highlighted how biased agonism at the GLP-1R affects sustained glucose-stimulated insulin secretion through avoidance of desensitisation and downregulation. A number of GLP-1R agonists (GLP-1RAs) feature a fatty acid moiety to prolong their pharmacokinetics via increased albumin binding, but the potential for these chemical changes to influence GLP-1R function has rarely been investigated beyond potency assessments for cyclic adenosine monophosphate (cAMP). Here we directly compare the prototypical GLP-1RA exendin-4 with its C-terminally acylated analogue, exendin-4-C16. We examine relative propensities of each ligand to recruit and activate G proteins and β-arrestins, endocytic and post-endocytic trafficking profiles, and interactions with model and cellular membranes in HEK293 and HEK293T cells. Both ligands had similar cAMP potency but exendin-4-C16 showed ~2.5-fold bias towards G protein recruitment and a ~60% reduction in β-arrestin-2 recruitment efficacy compared to exendin-4, as well as reduced GLP-1R endocytosis and preferential targeting towards recycling pathways. These effects were associated with reduced movement of the GLP-1R extracellular domain measured using a conformational biosensor approach, and a ~70% increase in insulin secretion in INS-1 832/3 cells. Interactions with plasma membrane lipids were enhanced by the acyl chain. Exendin-4-C16 showed extensive albumin binding and was highly effective for lowering of blood glucose in mice over at least 72 hours. Our study highlights the importance of a broad approach to the evaluation of GLP-1RA pharmacology.

Journal article

Pickford P, Lucey M, Rujan R-M, McGlone ER, Bitsi S, Ashford FB, Corrêa IR, Hodson DJ, Tomas A, Deganutti G, Reynolds CA, Owen BM, Tan TM, Minnion J, Jones B, Bloom SRet al., 2021, Partial agonism improves the anti-hyperglycaemic efficacy of an oxyntomodulin-derived GLP-1R/GCGR co-agonist, Molecular Metabolism, Vol: 51, ISSN: 2212-8778

OBJECTIVE: Glucagon-like peptide-1 and glucagon receptor (GLP-1R/GCGR) co-agonism can maximise weight loss and improve glycaemic control in type 2 diabetes and obesity. In this study we investigated the cellular and metabolic effects of modulating the balance between G protein and β-arrestin-2 recruitment at GLP-1R and GCGR using oxyntomodulin (OXM)-derived co-agonists. This strategy has been previously shown to improve the duration of action of GLP-1R mono-agonists by reducing target desensitisation and downregulation. METHODS: Dipeptidyl dipeptidase-4 (DPP-4)-resistant OXM analogues were generated and assessed for a variety of cellular readouts. Molecular dynamic simulations were used to gain insights into the molecular interactions involved. In vivo studies were performed in mice to identify effects on glucose homeostasis and weight loss. RESULTS: Ligand-specific reductions in β-arrestin-2 recruitment were associated with slower GLP-1R internalisation and prolonged glucose-lowering action in vivo. The putative benefits of GCGR agonism were retained, with equivalent weight loss compared to the GLP-1R mono-agonist liraglutide in spite of a lesser degree of food intake suppression. The compounds tested showed only a minor degree of biased agonism between G protein and β-arrestin-2 recruitment at both receptors and were best classified as partial agonists for the two pathways measured. CONCLUSIONS: Diminishing β-arrestin-2 recruitment may be an effective way to increase the therapeutic efficacy of GLP-1R/GCGR co-agonists. These benefits can be achieved by partial rather than biased agonism.

Journal article

Marzook A, Chen S, Pickford P, Lucey M, Wang Y, Corrêa Jr IR, Broichhagen J, Hodson DJ, Salem V, Rutter GA, Tan TM, Bloom SR, Tomas A, Jones Bet al., 2021, Evaluation of efficacy- versus affinity-driven agonism with biased GLP-1R ligands P5 and exendin-F1, Biochemical Pharmacology, Vol: 190, Pages: 1-12, ISSN: 0006-2952

The glucagon-like peptide-1 receptor (GLP-1R) is an important regulator of glucose homeostasis and has been successfully targeted for the treatment of type 2 diabetes. Recently described biased GLP-1R agonists with selective reductions in β-arrestin versus G protein coupling show improved metabolic actions in vivo. However, two prototypical G protein-favouring GLP-1R agonists, P5 and exendin-F1, are reported to show divergent effects on insulin secretion. In this study we aimed to resolve this discrepancy by performing a side-by-side characterisation of these two ligands across a variety of in vitro and in vivo assays. Exendin-F1 showed reduced acute efficacy versus P5 for several readouts, including recruitment of mini-G proteins, G protein-coupled receptor kinases (GRKs) and β-arrestin-2. Maximal responses were also lower for both GLP-1R internalisation and the presence of active GLP-1R-mini-Gs complexes in early endosomes with exendin-F1 treatment. In contrast, prolonged insulin secretion in vitro and sustained anti-hyperglycaemic efficacy in mice were both greater with exendin-F1 than with P5. We conclude that the particularly low acute efficacy of exendin-F1 and associated reductions in GLP-1R downregulation appear to be more important than preservation of endosomal signalling to allow sustained insulin secretion responses. This has implications for the ongoing development of affinity- versus efficacy-driven biased GLP-1R agonists as treatments for metabolic disease.

Journal article

Ast J, Novak AN, Podewin T, Fine NHF, Jones B, Tomas Catala A, Birke R, Roßmann K, Mathes B, Eichhorst J, Lehmann M, Linnemann AK, Hodson DJ, Broichhagen Jet al., 2021, An expanded LUXendin color palette for GLP1R detection and visualization in vitro and in vivo, Publisher: ChemRxiv

The glucagon-like peptide-1 receptor (GLP1R) is expressed in peripheral tissues and the brain, where it exerts pleiotropic actions on metabolic and inflammatory processes. Detection and visualization of GLP1R remains challenging, partly due to a lack of validated reagents. Previously, we generated LUXendins, antagonistic red and far-red fluorescent probes for specific labeling of GLP1R in live and fixed cells/tissue. We now extend this concept to the green and near-infrared color ranges by synthesizing and testing LUXendin492, LUXendin551, LUXendin615 and LUXendin762. All four probes brightly and specifically label GLP1R in cells and pancreatic islets. Further, LUXendin551 acts as chemical beta cell reporter in preclinical rodent models, while LUXendin762 allows non-invasive imaging, highlighting differentially-accessible GLP1R populations. We thus expand the color palette of LUXendins to seven different spectra, opening up a range of experiments using widefield microscopy available in most labs through super-resolution imaging and whole animal imaging. With this, we expect that LUXendins will continue to generate novel and specific insight into GLP1R biology.

Working paper

Cheung R, Pizza G, Chabosseau P, Rolando D, Tomas A, Burgoyne T, Salowka A, Macklin A, Cao Y, Nguyen-Tu M-S, Marchetti P, Shapiro J, Piemonti L, de Koning E, Leclerc I, Sakamoto K, Smith DM, Rutter GA, Martinez-Sanchez Aet al., 2021, Glucose-dependent miR-125b is a negative regulator of β-cell function, BioRxiv

<jats:title>SUMMARY</jats:title><jats:p>Impaired pancreatic β-cell function and insulin secretion are hallmarks of type 2 diabetes. MicroRNAs are short non-coding RNAs that silence gene expression, vital for the development and function of β-cells. MiR-125b-5p (miR-125b), a highly conserved miRNA, is abundant in β-cells, though its role in these cells is unclear. Here we show that miR-125b levels in human islets correlate with body mass index (BMI), and its expression is regulated by glucose in an AMP-activated protein kinase-dependent manner. An unbiased high-throughput screen identified multiple miR-125b targets, including the transporter of lysosomal hydrolases <jats:italic>M6pr</jats:italic> and the mitochondrial fission regulator <jats:italic>Mtfp1</jats:italic>. Inactivation of miR-125b in human β-cells shortened mitochondria and enhanced glucose-stimulated insulin secretion, whilst mice over-expressing miR-125b selectively in β-cells were glucose intolerant. β-cells from these animals contained enlarged lysosomal structures and showed reduced insulin content and secretion. Thus, we identify miR125b as a glucose-controlled regulator of organelle dynamics that modulates insulin secretion.</jats:p><jats:sec id="s1"><jats:title>Highlights</jats:title><jats:list list-type="bullet"><jats:list-item><jats:p>Islet miR-125b correlates with BMI and is regulated by glucose via AMP-activated protein kinase in β-cells</jats:p></jats:list-item><jats:list-item><jats:p>miR-125b targets dozens of genes including several involved in the regulation of mitochondrial (<jats:italic>Mtfp1</jats:italic>) and lysosomal (<jats:italic>M6pr</jats:italic>) morphology or function</jats:p></jats:list-item><jats:list-item><jats:p>Deletion of miR-125b results in shorter mitochondria an

Journal article

Marzook A, Tomas A, Jones B, 2021, The interplay of glucagon-like peptide-1 receptor trafficking and signalling in pancreatic beta cells, Frontiers in Endocrinology, Vol: 12, Pages: 1-12, ISSN: 1664-2392

The glucagon-like peptide 1 receptor (GLP-1R) is a class B G protein-coupled receptor (GPCR) which mediates the effects of GLP-1, an incretin hormone secreted primarily from L-cells in the intestine and within the central nervous system. The GLP-1R, upon activation, exerts several metabolic effects including the release of insulin and suppression of appetite, and has, accordingly, become an important target for the treatment for type 2 diabetes (T2D). Recently, there has been heightened interest in how the activated GLP-1R is trafficked between different endomembrane compartments, controlling the spatial origin and duration of intracellular signals. The discovery of “biased” GLP-1R agonists that show altered trafficking profiles and selective engagement with different intracellular effectors has added to the tools available to study the mechanisms and physiological importance of these processes. In this review we survey early and recent work that has shed light on the interplay between GLP-1R signalling and trafficking, and how it might be therapeutically tractable for T2D and related diseases.

Journal article

Arcones AC, Vila-Bedmar R, Mirasierra M, Cruces-Sande M, Vallejo M, Jones B, Tomas A, Mayor F, Murga Cet al., 2021, GRK2 regulates GLP-1R-mediated early phase insulin secretion in vivo, BMC Biology, Vol: 19, ISSN: 1741-7007

BACKGROUND: Insulin secretion from the pancreatic β-cell is finely modulated by different signals to allow an adequate control of glucose homeostasis. Incretin hormones such as glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) act as key physiological potentiators of insulin release through binding to the G protein-coupled receptor GLP-1R. Another key regulator of insulin signaling is the Ser/Thr kinase G protein-coupled receptor kinase 2 (GRK2). However, whether GRK2 affects insulin secretion or if GRK2 can control incretin actions in vivo remains to be analyzed. RESULTS: Using GRK2 hemizygous mice, isolated pancreatic islets, and model β-cell lines, we have uncovered a relevant physiological role for GRK2 as a regulator of incretin-mediated insulin secretion in vivo. Feeding, oral glucose gavage, or administration of GLP-1R agonists in animals with reduced GRK2 levels (GRK2+/- mice) resulted in enhanced early phase insulin release without affecting late phase secretion. In contrast, intraperitoneal glucose-induced insulin release was not affected. This effect was recapitulated in isolated islets and correlated with the increased size or priming efficacy of the readily releasable pool (RRP) of insulin granules that was observed in GRK2+/- mice. Using nanoBRET in β-cell lines, we found that stimulation of GLP-1R promoted GRK2 association to this receptor and that GRK2 protein and kinase activity were required for subsequent β-arrestin recruitment. CONCLUSIONS: Overall, our data suggest that GRK2 is an important negative modulator of GLP-1R-mediated insulin secretion and that GRK2-interfering strategies may favor β-cell insulin secretion specifically during the early phase, an effect that may carry interesting therapeutic applications.

Journal article

Manchanda Y, Bitsi S, Kang Y, Jones B, Tomas Aet al., 2021, Spatiotemporal control of GLP-1 receptor activity, Current Opinion in Endocrine and Metabolic Research, Vol: 16, Pages: 19-27, ISSN: 2451-9650

Pleiotropic signalling by G protein–coupled receptors is subject to spatiotemporal regulation, which allows precise control over a diverse range of cellular outputs. The glucagon-like peptide-1 receptor (GLP-1R), a class B G protein–coupled receptor important in the control of blood glucose and energy homeostasis, is subject to redistribution within nanoregions of the plasma membrane and throughout the endocytic network, enabling complex patterns of signalling at different locations. Nanodomain segregation of GLP-1Rs promotes the formation of functionally important homo-oligomers and hetero-oligomers and increases proximity to cytosolic effectors. Persistent signalling from GLP-1Rs within the endosomal compartment has also been described. These processes can be dramatically altered by biased and/or modified orthosteric GLP-1R agonists and allosteric modulators. GLP-1R signalling is not a monotonic process and fine-tuning of cellular responses in space and time may provide a means to improve the therapeutic efficacy of GLP-1R agonists.

Journal article

Lagou V, Jiang L, Ulrich A, Zudina L, González KSG, Balkhiyarova Z, Faggian A, Chen S, Todorov P, Sharapov S, David A, Marullo L, Mägi R, Rujan R-M, Ahlqvist E, Thorleifsson G, Gao H, Evangelou E, Benyamin B, Scott R, Isaacs A, Zhao JH, Willems SM, Johnson T, Gieger C, Grallert H, Meisinger C, Müller-Nurasyid M, Strawbridge RJ, Goel A, Rybin D, Albrecht E, Jackson AU, Stringham HM, Corrêa IR, Eric F-E, Steinthorsdottir V, Uitterlinden AG, Munroe PB, Brown MJ, Julian S, Holmen O, Thorand B, Hveem K, Wilsgaard T, Mohlke KL, Kratzer W, Mark H, Koenig W, Boehm BO, Tan TM, Tomas A, Salem V, Barroso I, Tuomilehto J, Boehnke M, Florez JC, Hamsten A, Watkins H, Njølstad I, Wichmann H-E, Caulfield MJ, Khaw K-T, van Duijn C, Hofman A, Wareham NJ, Langenberg C, Whitfield JB, Martin NG, Montgomery G, Scapoli C, Tzoulaki I, Elliott P, Thorsteinsdottir U, Stefansson K, Brittain EL, McCarthy MI, Froguel P, Sexton PM, Wootten D, Groop L, Dupuis J, Meigs JB, Deganutti G, Demirkan A, Pers TH, Reynolds CA, Aulchenko YS, Kaakinen MA, Jones B, Prokopenko I, Glucose OBOTM-AO, MAGIC I-RTCet al., 2021, Random glucose GWAS in 493,036 individuals provides insights into diabetes pathophysiology, complications and treatment stratification, medRxiv

Homeostatic control of blood glucose requires different physiological responses in the fasting and post-prandial states. We reasoned that glucose measurements under non-standardised conditions (random glucose; RG) may capture diverse glucoregulatory processes more effectively than previous genome-wide association studies (GWAS) of fasting glycaemia or after standardised glucose loads. Through GWAS meta-analysis of RG in 493,036 individuals without diabetes of diverse ethnicities we identified 128 associated loci represented by 162 distinct signals, including 14 with sex-dimorphic effects, 9 discovered through trans-ethnic analysis, and 70 novel signals for glycaemic traits. Novel RG loci were particularly enriched in expression in the ileum and colon, indicating a prominent role for the gastrointestinal tract in the control of blood glucose. Functional studies and molecular dynamics simulations of coding variants of GLP1R, a well-established type 2 diabetes treatment target, provided a genetic framework for optimal selection of GLP-1R agonist therapy. We also provided new evidence from Mendelian randomisation that lung function is modulated by blood glucose and that pulmonary dysfunction is a diabetes complication. Thus, our approach based on RG GWAS provided wide-ranging insights into the biology of glucose regulation, diabetes complications and the potential for treatment stratification.Competing Interest StatementAlejandra Tomas has received grant funding from Sun Pharmaceuticals. Ivan R Corrêa, Jr is an employee of New England Biolabs, Inc., a manufacturer and vendor of reagents for life science research. Mark J Caulfield is Chief Scientist for Genomics England, a UK Government company. The views expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of the NHS, the NIHR, or the Department of Health. Mark McCarthy has served on advisory panels for Pfizer, NovoNordisk and Zoe Global, has received honoraria from Merck, Pfizer, Novo No

Journal article

Jones B, McGlone ER, Fang Z, Pickford P, Corrêa IR, Oishi A, Jockers R, Inoue A, Kumar S, Görlitz F, Dunsby C, French PMW, Rutter GA, Tan TM, Tomas A, Bloom SRet al., 2021, Genetic and biased agonist-mediated reductions in β-arrestin recruitment prolong cAMP signalling at glucagon family receptors, Journal of Biological Chemistry, Vol: 296, Pages: 1-15, ISSN: 0021-9258

Receptors for the peptide hormones glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1R), glucose-dependent insulinotropic polypeptide (GIPR) and glucagon (GCGR) are important regulators of insulin secretion and energy metabolism. GLP-1R agonists have been successfully deployed for the treatment of type 2 diabetes, but it has been suggested that their efficacy is limited by target receptor desensitisation and downregulation due to recruitment of β-arrestins. Indeed, recently described GLP-1R agonists with reduced β-arrestin-2 recruitment have delivered promising results in preclinical and clinical studies. We therefore aimed to determine if the same phenomenon could apply to the closely related GIPR and GCGR. In HEK293 cells depleted of both β-arrestin isoforms the duration of G protein-dependent cAMP/PKA signalling was increased in response to the endogenous ligand for each receptor. Moreover, in wild-type cells, “biased” GLP-1, GCG and GIP analogues with selective reductions in β-arrestin-2 recruitment led to reduced receptor endocytosis and increased insulin secretion over a prolonged stimulation period, although the latter effect was only seen at high agonist concentrations. Biased GCG analogues increased the duration of cAMP signalling, but this did not lead to increased glucose output from hepatocytes. Our study provides a rationale for development of GLP-1R, GIPR and GCGR agonists with reduced β-arrestin recruitment, but further work is needed to maximally exploit this strategy for therapeutic purposes.

Journal article

Georgiadou E, Muralidharan C, Martinez M, Chabosseau P, Tomas A, Su Wern FY, Akalestou E, Stylianides T, Wretlind A, Legido-Quigley C, Jones B, Noriega LL, Xu Y, Gu G, Alsabeeh N, Cruciani-Guglielmacci C, Magnan C, Ibberson M, Leclerc I, Ali Y, Soleimanpour SA, Linnemann AK, Rodriguez TA, Rutter GAet al., 2021, Mitofusins Mfn1 and Mfn2 are required to preserve glucose-but not incretin- stimulated beta cell connectivity and insulin secretion, bioRxiv

Aims/hypothesis Mitochondrial glucose metabolism is essential for stimulated insulin release from pancreatic beta cells. Whether mitochondrial networks may be important for glucose or incretin sensing has yet to be determined.Methods Here, we generated mice with beta cell-selective, adult-restricted deletion of the mitofusin genes Mfn1 and Mfn2 (βMfn1/2 dKO). Whole or dissociated pancreatic islets were used for live beta cell fluorescence imaging of cytosolic or mitochondrial Ca2+ concentration and ATP production or GSIS in response to increasing glucose concentrations or GLP-1 receptor agonists. Serum and blood samples were collected to examine oral and i.p. glucose tolerance.Results βMfn1/2 dKO mice displayed elevated fed and fasted glycaemia (p&lt;0.01, p&lt;0.001) and a &gt;five-fold decrease (p&lt;0.0001) in plasma insulin. Mitochondrial length, glucose-induced polarisation, ATP synthesis and cytosolic Ca2+ increases were all reduced (p&lt;0.05,p&lt;0.01,p&lt;0.0001) in dKO islets, and beta cell Ca2+ dynamics were suppressed in vivo (p&lt;0.001). In contrast, oral glucose tolerance was near normal in βMfn1/2 dKO mice (p&lt;0.05, p&lt;0.01) and GLP-1 or GIP receptor agonists largely corrected defective GSIS from isolated islets through an EPAC-dependent signalling activation.Conclusions/interpretation Mitochondrial fusion and fission cycles are thus essential in the beta cell to maintain normal glucose, but not incretin, sensing. Defects in these cycles in some forms of diabetes might therefore provide opportunities for novel incretin-based or other therapies.Impact of Mfn1/2 deletion on glucose and incretin stimulated-insulin secretion in beta cells. (A) In control animals, glucose is taken up by beta cells through GLUT2 and metabolised by mitochondria (elongated structure) through the citrate (TCA) cycle, leading to an increased mitochondrial proton motive force (hyperpolarised Δψm), accelerated

Journal article

Jones B, Fang Z, Chen S, Manchanda Y, Bitsi S, Pickford P, David A, Shchepinova MM, Corrêa Jr IR, Hodson DJ, Broichhagen J, Tate EW, Reimann F, Salem V, Rutter GA, Tan T, Bloom SR, Tomas Aet al., 2020, Ligand-specific factors influencing GLP-1 receptor post-endocytic trafficking and degradation in pancreatic beta cells, International Journal of Molecular Sciences, Vol: 212, Pages: 1-24, ISSN: 1422-0067

The glucagon-like peptide-1 receptor (GLP-1R) is an important regulator of blood glucose homeostasis. Ligand-specific differences in membrane trafficking of the GLP-1R influence its signalling properties and therapeutic potential in type 2 diabetes. Here, we have evaluated how different factors combine to control the post-endocytic trafficking of GLP-1R to recycling versus degradative pathways. Experiments were performed in primary islet cells, INS-1 832/3 clonal beta cells and HEK293 cells, using biorthogonal labelling of GLP-1R to determine its localisation and degradation after treatment with GLP-1, exendin-4 and several further GLP-1R agonist peptides. We also characterised the effect of a rare GLP1R coding variant, T149M, and the role of endosomal peptidase endothelin-converting enzyme-1 (ECE-1), in GLP1R trafficking. Our data reveal how treatment with GLP-1 versus exendin-4 is associated with preferential GLP-1R targeting towards a recycling pathway. GLP-1, but not exendin-4, is a substrate for ECE-1, and the resultant propensity to intra-endosomal degradation, in conjunction with differences in binding affinity, contributes to alterations in GLP-1R trafficking behaviours and degradation. The T149M GLP-1R variant shows reduced signalling and internalisation responses, which is likely to be due to disruption of the cytoplasmic region that couples to intracellular effectors. These observations provide insights into how ligand- and genotype-specific factors can influence GLP-1R trafficking.

Journal article

Ast J, Arvaniti A, Fine NHF, Nasteska D, Ashford FB, Stamataki Z, Koszegi Z, Bacon A, Jones BJ, Lucey MA, Sasaki S, Brierley DI, Hastoy B, Tomas A, D'Agostino G, Reimann F, Lynn FC, Reissaus CA, Linnemann AK, D'Este E, Calebiro D, Trapp S, Johnsson K, Podewin T, Broichhagen J, Hodson DJet al., 2020, Author Correction: Super-resolution microscopy compatible fluorescent probes reveal endogenous glucagon-like peptide-1 receptor distribution and dynamics., Nature Communications, Vol: 11, Pages: 1-1, ISSN: 2041-1723

Correction to: Nature Communications, published online 24 January 2020.

Journal article

Carrat GR, Haythorne E, Tomas A, Haataja L, Müller A, Arvan P, Piunti A, Cheng K, Huang M, Pullen TJ, Georgiadou E, Stylianides T, Amirruddin NS, Salem V, Distaso W, Cakebread A, Heesom KJ, Lewis PA, Hodson DJ, Briant LJ, Fung ACH, Sessions RB, Alpy F, Kong APS, Benke PI, Torta F, Keong Teo AK, Leclerc I, Solimena M, Wigley DB, Rutter GAet al., 2020, The type 2 diabetes gene product STARD10 is a phosphoinositide-binding protein that controls insulin secretory granule biogenesis, Molecular Metabolism, Vol: 40, ISSN: 2212-8778

OBJECTIVE: Risk alleles for type 2 diabetes at the STARD10 locus are associated with lowered STARD10 expression in the β-cell, impaired glucose-induced insulin secretion, and decreased circulating proinsulin:insulin ratios. Although likely to serve as a mediator of intracellular lipid transfer, the identity of the transported lipids and thus the pathways through which STARD10 regulates β-cell function are not understood. The aim of this study was to identify the lipids transported and affected by STARD10 in the β-cell and the role of the protein in controlling proinsulin processing and insulin granule biogenesis and maturation. METHODS: We used isolated islets from mice deleted selectively in the β-cell for Stard10 (βStard10KO) and performed electron microscopy, pulse-chase, RNA sequencing, and lipidomic analyses. Proteomic analysis of STARD10 binding partners was executed in the INS1 (832/13) cell line. X-ray crystallography followed by molecular docking and lipid overlay assay was performed on purified STARD10 protein. RESULTS: βStard10KO islets had a sharply altered dense core granule appearance, with a dramatic increase in the number of "rod-like" dense cores. Correspondingly, basal secretion of proinsulin was increased versus wild-type islets. The solution of the crystal structure of STARD10 to 2.3 Å resolution revealed a binding pocket capable of accommodating polyphosphoinositides, and STARD10 was shown to bind to inositides phosphorylated at the 3' position. Lipidomic analysis of âStard10KO islets demonstrated changes in phosphatidylinositol levels, and the inositol lipid kinase PIP4K2C was identified as a STARD10 binding partner. Also consistent with roles for STARD10 in phosphoinositide signalling, the phosphoinositide-binding proteins Pirt and Synaptotagmin 1 were amongst the differentially expressed genes in βStard10KO islets. CONCLUSION: Our data indicate that STARD10 binds to, and may transp

Journal article

Pickford P, Lucey M, Fang Z, Bitsi S, Bernardino de la Serna J, Broichhagen J, Hodson DJ, Minnion J, Rutter GA, Bloom SR, Tomas A, Jones Bet al., 2020, Signalling, trafficking and glucoregulatory properties of glucagon-like peptide-1 receptor agonists exendin-4 and lixisenatide., British Journal of Pharmacology, Vol: 177, Pages: 3905-3923, ISSN: 0007-1188

BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE: Amino acid substitutions at the N-termini of glucagon-like peptide-1 receptor agonist (GLP-1RA) peptides result in distinct patterns of intracellular signalling, sub-cellular trafficking and efficacy in vivo. Here we aimed to determine whether sequence differences at the ligand C-termini of clinically approved GLP-1RAs exendin-4 and lixisenatide lead to similar phenomena. EXPERIMENTAL APPROACH: Exendin-4, lixisenatide, and N-terminally substituted analogues with biased signalling characteristics were compared across a range of in vitro trafficking and signalling assays in different cell types. Fluorescent ligands and new time-resolved FRET approaches were developed to study agonist behaviours at the cellular and sub-cellular level. Anti-hyperglycaemic and anorectic effects of each parent ligand, and their biased derivatives, were assessed in mice. KEY RESULTS: Lixisenatide and exendin-4 showed equal binding affinity, but lixisenatide was 5-fold less potent for cAMP signalling. Both peptides induced extensive GLP-1R clustering in the plasma membrane and were rapidly endocytosed, but the GLP-1R recycled more slowly to the cell surface after lixisenatide treatment. These combined deficits resulted in reduced maximal sustained insulin secretion and reduced anti-hyperglycaemic and anorectic effects in mice with lixisenatide. N-terminal substitution of His1 by Phe1 to both ligands had favourable effects on their pharmacology, resulting in improved insulin release and lowering of blood glucose. CONCLUSION AND IMPLICATIONS: Changes to the C-terminus of exendin-4 affect signalling potency and GLP-1R trafficking via mechanisms unrelated to GLP-1R occupancy. These differences were associated with changes in their ability to control blood glucose and therefore may be therapeutically relevant.

Journal article

Jones B, Pickford P, Lucey M, Tomas-Catala A, Minnion J, Bitsi S, Ungewiss J, Schoeneberg K, Rutter G, Bloom Set al., 2020, Disconnect between signalling potency and in vivo efficacy of pharmacokinetically optimised biased glucagon-like peptide-1 receptor agonists, Molecular Metabolism, Vol: 37, ISSN: 2212-8778

ObjectiveThe objective of this study was to determine how pharmacokinetically advantageous acylation impacts on glucagon-like peptide-1 receptor (GLP-1R) signal bias, trafficking, anti-hyperglycaemic efficacy, and appetite suppression.MethodsIn vitro signalling responses were measured using biochemical and biosensor assays. GLP-1R trafficking was determined by confocal microscopy and diffusion-enhanced resonance energy transfer. Pharmacokinetics, glucoregulatory effects, and appetite suppression were measured in acute, sub-chronic, and chronic settings in mice.ResultsA C-terminally acylated ligand, [F1,K⁴⁰.C16 diacid]exendin-4, was identified that showed undetectable β-arrestin recruitment and GLP-1R internalisation. Depending on the cellular system used, this molecule was up to 1000-fold less potent than the comparator [D3,K⁴⁰.C16 diacid]exendin-4 for cyclic AMP signalling, yet was considerably more effective in vivo, particularly for glucose regulation.ConclusionsC-terminal acylation of biased GLP-1R agonists increases their degree of signal bias in favour of cAMP production and improves their therapeutic potential.

Journal article

Fang Z, Chen S, Pickford P, Broichhagen J, Hodson DJ, Corrêa IR, Kumar S, Görlitz F, Dunsby C, French PMW, Rutter GA, Tan T, Bloom SR, Tomas A, Jones Bet al., 2020, The influence of peptide context on signaling and trafficking of glucagon-like peptide-1 receptor biased agonists, ACS Pharmacology & Translational Science, Vol: 3, Pages: 345-360, ISSN: 2575-9108

Signal bias and membrane trafficking have recently emerged as important considerations in the therapeutic targeting of the glucagon-like peptide-1 receptor (GLP-1R) in type 2 diabetes and obesity. In the present study, we have evaluated a peptide series with varying sequence homology between native GLP-1 and exendin-4, the archetypal ligands on which approved GLP-1R agonists are based. We find notable differences in agonist-mediated cyclic AMP signaling, recruitment of β-arrestins, endocytosis, and recycling, dependent both on the introduction of a His → Phe switch at position 1 and the specific midpeptide helical regions and C-termini of the two agonists. These observations were linked to insulin secretion in a beta cell model and provide insights into how ligand factors influence GLP-1R function at the cellular level.

Journal article

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