Residues of corticotropin releasing factor-binding protein (CRF-BP) that selectively abrogate binding to CRF but not to urocortin 1

Mark O. Huising, Joan M. Vaughan, Shaili H. Shah, Katherine L. Grillot, Cynthia J. Donaldson, Jean Rivier, Gert Flik, Wylie W. Vale

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


Corticotropin releasing factor-binding protein (CRF-BP) binds CRF and urocortin 1 (Ucn 1) with high affinity, thus preventing CRF receptor (CRFR) activation. Despite recent progress on the molecular details that govern interactions between CRF family neuropeptides and their cognate receptors, little is known concerning the mechanisms that allow CRF-BP to bind CRF and Ucn 1 with picomolar affinity. We conducted a comprehensive alanine scan of 76 evolutionarily conserved residues of CRF-BP and identified several residues that differentially affected the affinity for CRF over Ucn 1. We determined that both neuropeptides derive their similarly high affinity from distinct binding surfaces on CRF-BP. Alanine substitutions of arginine 56 (R56A) and aspartic acid 62 (D62A) reduce the affinity for CRF by ∼100-fold, while only marginally affecting the affinity for Ucn 1. The selective reduction in affinity for CRF depends on glutamic acid 25 in the CRF peptide, as substitution of Glu25 reduces the affinity for CRF-BP by approximately 2 orders of magnitude, but only in the presence of both Arg56 and Asp 62 in human CRF-BP. We show that CRF-BPR56A and CRF-BPD62A have lost the ability to inhibit CRFR1-mediated responses to CRF that activate luciferase induction in HEK293T cells and ACTH release from cultured rat anterior pituitary cells. In contrast, both CRF-BP mutants retain the ability to inhibit Ucn 1-induced CRFR1 activation. Collectively our findings demonstrate that CRF-BP has distinct and separable binding surfaces for CRF and Ucn 1, opening new avenues for the design of ligand-specific antagonists based on CRF-BP.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)8902-8912
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number14
StatePublished - Apr 4 2008
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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