Functional group and stereochemical requirements for substrate binding by ghrelin O-acyltransferase revealed by unnatural amino acid incorporation


Cleverdon ER, Davis TR, Hougland JL

Scientific Notation:

Bioorganic Chemistry

Publication Link:


Ghrelin is a small peptide hormone that undergoes a unique posttranslational modification, serine octanoylation, to play its physiological roles in processes including hunger signaling and glucose metabolism. Ghrelin O-acyltransferase (GOAT) catalyzes this posttranslational modification, which is essential for ghrelin to bind and activate its cognate GHS-R1a receptor. Inhibition of GOAT offers a potential avenue for modulating ghrelin signaling for therapeutic effect. Defining the molecular characteristics of ghrelin that lead to binding and recognition by GOAT will facilitate the development and optimization of GOAT inhibitors. We show that small peptide mimics of ghrelin substituted with 2,3-diaminopropanoic acid in place of the serine at the site of octanoylation act as submicromolar inhibitors of GOAT. Using these chemically modified analogs of desacyl ghrelin, we define key functional groups within the N-terminal sequence of ghrelin essential for binding to GOAT and determine GOAT's tolerance to backbone methylations and altered amino acid stereochemistry within ghrelin. Our study provides a structure-activity analysis of ghrelin binding to GOAT that expands upon activity-based investigations of ghrelin recognition and establishes a new class of potent substrate-mimetic GOAT inhibitors for further investigation and therapeutic interventions targeting ghrelin signaling.

FPWR Grant:

Investigation of ghrelin-o-acyltransferase as a target for treating hyperphagia in Prader-Willi syndrome (Year 1)