The neurohypophyseal hormone oxytocin (OT) regulates biologic functions in both peripheral tissues and the central nervous system. In the central nervous system, OT influences social processes, including peer relationships, maternal-infant bonding, and affiliative social relationships. In mammals, the nonapeptide OT structure is highly conserved with leucine in the eighth position (Leu8-OT). In marmosets (Callithrix), a nonsynon-ymous nucleotide substitution in the OXT gene codes for proline in the eighth residue position (Pro8-OT). OT binds to its cognate G protein–coupled receptor (OTR) and exerts diverse effects, including stimulation (Gs) or inhibition (Gi/o) of adenylyl cyclase, stimulation of potassium channel currents (Gi), and activation of phospholipase C (Gq). Chinese hamster ovary cells expressing marmoset or human oxytocin receptors (mOTRs or hOTRs, respectively) were used to characterize OT signaling. At the mOTR, Pro8-OT was more efficacious than Leu8-OT in measures of Gq activation, with both peptides displaying subnanomolar potencies. At the hOTR, neither the potency nor efficacy of Pro8-OT and Leu8-OT differed with respect to Gq signaling. In both mOTR- and hOTR-expressing cells, Leu8-OT was more potent and modestly more efficacious than Pro8-OT in inducing hyperpolarization. In mOTR cells, Leu8-OT–induced hyperpolarization was modestly inhibited by pretreatment with pertussis toxin (PTX), consistent with a minor role for Gi/o activation; however, the Pro8-OT response in mOTR and hOTR cells was PTX insensitive. These findings are consistent with membrane hyperpolarization being largely mediated by a Gq signaling mechanism leading to Ca21-dependent activation of K1 channels. Evaluation of the influence of apamin, charybdotoxin, paxilline, and TRAM-34 demonstrated involvement of both intermediate and large conductance Ca21-activated K1 channels.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Molecular Medicine