The melanocortin 3 receptor (MC3R) regulates several physiological functions, including feed efficiency, nutrient partitioning, fasting response, natriuresis, and immune reactions. Naturally occurring mutations in the MC3R gene have been shown to be associated with increased adiposity and lung diseases such as tuberculosis and cystic fibrosis. The DRY motif at the cytoplasmic end of transmembrane domain 3 (TM3) and the second intracellular loop 2 (ICL2) are known to be important for receptor function in several G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs). To gain a better understanding of the functions of this domain in MC3R, we performed alanine-scanning mutagenesis on 18 residues. We showed that alanine mutation of 11 residues reduced the maximal binding and maximal cAMP production stimulated by agonists. Mutation of two residues did not change maximal binding but resulted in impaired signaling in the Gs-cAMP pathway. Mutation of five residues impaired signaling in the ERK1/2 pathway. We have also shown that alanine mutants of seven residues that were defective in the cAMP pathway were not defective in the ERK1/2 pathway, demonstrating biased signaling. In summary, we demonstrated that the cytoplasmic end of TM3 and the ICL2 were critical for MC3R function. We also reported for the first time biased signaling in MC3R.
© 2014 Society for Endocrinology.