Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America vol:99 issue:13 pages:8573-8578
The cloning of novel G protein-coupled receptors and the search for their natural ligands, a process called reverse pharmacology, is an excellent opportunity to discover novel hormones and neurotransmitters. Based on a degenerate primer approach we have cloned a G protein-coupled receptor whose mRNA expression profile indicates highest expression in the dorsal root ganglia, specifically in the subset of small neurons, suggesting a role in nociception. In addition, moderate expression was found in lung, hypothalamus, peripheral blood leukocytes, and ovaries. Guided by a receptor-activation bioassay, we identified adenine as the endogenous ligand, which activated the receptor potently and with high structural stringency. Therefore, we propose to name this receptor as the adenine receptor. Hormonal functions have already been demonstrated for adenine derivatives like 6-benzylaminopurine in plants and 1-methyladenine in lower animals. Here, we demonstrate that adenine functions as a signaling molecule in mammals. This finding adds a third family besides P1 and P2 receptors to the class of purinergic receptors.