Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Blueprint of Oxytocin Receptor Facilitates Development of New Autism Drugs

16.07.2020

Oxytocin plays a role in various mental health and sexual reproduction disorders. Researchers at the University of Zurich have now determined the three-dimensional structure of the oxytocin receptor to which the hormone binds. This knowledge could promote the development of novel drugs to treat a variety of diseases.

The so-called “love hormone” or "cuddle hormone" oxytocin is not only involved in strengthening the mother-child relationship and regulating social bonding. It also plays an important role in different mental health disorders like autism, Asperger's syndrome, social anxiety or addiction vulnerability.


Structure of the oxytocin receptor in the cell membrane (grey), to which retosiban (orange) and cholesterol (green) are bound.

University of Zurich

Furthermore, oxytocin starts labor, the birth process, and features in many aspects of sexual reproduction – as well as corresponding disorders.

The hormone exerts all these effects by binding to the oxytocin receptor. Substances that target the oxytocin receptor thus have great therapeutic potential for a variety of diseases.

New drugs are difficult to develop

Since its discovery nearly 30 years ago, researchers have tried to develop drugs that bind specifically to the oxytocin receptor. However, conducting such experiments proved to be very difficult.

Except for the hormone oxytocin itself, hardly any drug targeting the oxytocin receptor has been approved for clinical use. A team led by Andreas Plückthun, professor at the Department of Biochemistry of the University of Zurich (UZH), has now determined the detailed three-dimensional structure of the oxytocin receptor bound to the drug candidate retosiban, which was developed for the suppression of preterm labor.

“The elucidation of the oxytocin receptor's structure was an extremely challenging undertaking, which only succeeded thanks to a combination of directed evolution and protein engineering methods we developed over the last few years,” says Plückthun.

“Understanding the exact three-dimensional interaction of retosiban and the oxytocin receptor at the atomic level serves as the blueprint for developing new therapeutics that regulate the receptor's functioning.”

Improved understanding of receptor mechanism

The scientists also made an additional discovery. “To allow efficient propagation of oxytocin-induced signaling, the oxytocin receptor has to interact with two additional substances – cholesterol and magnesium,” says PhD candidate Yann Waltenspühl.

Determining the exact receptor shape enabled the researchers to identify interaction regions for both of these substances. “The identification of these previously unknown regions fundamentally improves the understanding of the receptor mechanism,” adds the first author of the study.

Boosting the development of new therapeutics for other diseases

The new findings might also be directly applicable to the very closely related vasopressin receptors. The hormone vasopressin controls the water content of body fluids and the blood pressure, and its receptors are therefore drug targets for the treatment of many diseases – from kidney disease to heart failure.

Just like the oxytocin receptor, the vasopressin receptors have also been implicated in autism spectrum disorders. “Our work could thus boost the development of new drugs for a very broad range of widespread and severe human diseases,” concludes Andreas Plückthun.

Wissenschaftliche Ansprechpartner:

Prof. Dr. Andreas Plueckthun
Department of Biochemistry
University of Zurich
Phone: +41 44 635 55 70
E-mail: plueckthun@bioc.uzh.ch

Originalpublikation:

Yann Waltenspühl, Jendrik Schöppe, Janosch Ehrenmann, Lutz Kummer, Andreas Plückthun. Crystal structure of the human oxytocin receptor. Science Advances. 15 July 2020. DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.abb5419

Weitere Informationen:

https://www.media.uzh.ch/en/Press-Releases/2020/Oxytocin-Receptor.html

Kurt Bodenmüller | Universität Zürich

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Study clarifies kinship of important plant group
05.08.2020 | Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn

nachricht Human cell-based test systems for toxicity studies: Ready-to-use Toxicity Assay (hiPSC)
05.08.2020 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Biomedizinische Technik IBMT

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: New Strategy Against Osteoporosis

An international research team has found a new approach that may be able to reduce bone loss in osteoporosis and maintain bone health.

Osteoporosis is the most common age-related bone disease which affects hundreds of millions of individuals worldwide. It is estimated that one in three women...

Im Focus: AI & single-cell genomics

New software predicts cell fate

Traditional single-cell sequencing methods help to reveal insights about cellular differences and functions - but they do this with static snapshots only...

Im Focus: TU Graz Researchers synthesize nanoparticles tailored for special applications

“Core-shell” clusters pave the way for new efficient nanomaterials that make catalysts, magnetic and laser sensors or measuring devices for detecting electromagnetic radiation more efficient.

Whether in innovative high-tech materials, more powerful computer chips, pharmaceuticals or in the field of renewable energies, nanoparticles – smallest...

Im Focus: Tailored light inspired by nature

An international research team with Prof. Cornelia Denz from the Institute of Applied Physics at the University of Münster develop for the first time light fields using caustics that do not change during propagation. With the new method, the physicists cleverly exploit light structures that can be seen in rainbows or when light is transmitted through drinking glasses.

Modern applications as high resolution microsopy or micro- or nanoscale material processing require customized laser beams that do not change during...

Im Focus: NYUAD astrophysicist investigates the possibility of life below the surface of Mars

  • A rover expected to explore below the surface of Mars in 2022 has the potential to provide more insights
  • The findings published in Scientific Reports, Springer Nature suggests the presence of traces of water on Mars, raising the question of the possibility of a life-supporting environment

Although no life has been detected on the Martian surface, a new study from astrophysicist and research scientist at the Center for Space Science at NYU Abu...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

“Conference on Laser Polishing – LaP 2020”: The final touches for surfaces

23.07.2020 | Event News

Conference radar for cybersecurity

21.07.2020 | Event News

Contact Tracing Apps against COVID-19: German National Academy Leopoldina hosts international virtual panel discussion

07.07.2020 | Event News

 
Latest News

Manifestation of quantum distance in flat band materials

05.08.2020 | Physics and Astronomy

Discovery shows promise for treating Huntington's Disease

05.08.2020 | Health and Medicine

Rock debris protects glaciers from climate change more than previously known

05.08.2020 | Earth Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>