Background and Purpose: The succinate receptor (formerly GPR91 or SUCNR1) is described as a metabolic sensor that may be involved in homeostasis. Notwithstanding its implication in important (patho)physiological processes, the function of succinate receptors has remained ill-defined because no pharmacological tools were available. We report on the discovery of the first family of potent synthetic agonists. Experimental Approach: We screened a library of succinate analogues and analysed their activity on succinate receptors. Also, we modelled a pharmacophore and a binding site for this receptor. New agonists were identified based on the information provided by these two approaches. Their activity was studied in various bioassays, including measurement of cAMP levels, [Ca2+]i mobilization, TGF-α shedding and recruitment of arrestin 3. The in vivo effects of activating succinate receptors with these new agonists was evaluated on rat BP. Key Results: We identified cis-epoxysuccinic acid and cis-1,2-cyclopropanedicarboxylic acid as agonists with an efficacy similar to that of succinic acid. Interestingly, cis-epoxysuccinic acid was 10- to 20-fold more potent than succinic acid on succinate receptors. For example, cis-epoxysuccinic acid reduced cAMP levels with a pEC50 = 5.57 ± 0.02 (EC50 = 2.7 μM), compared with succinate pEC50 = 4.54 ± 0.08 (EC50 = 29 μM). The rank order of potency of the three agonists was the same in all in vitro assays. Both cis-epoxysuccinic and cis-1,2-cyclopropanedicarboxylic acid were as potent as succinate in increasing rat BP. Conclusions and Implications: We describe new agonists at succinate receptors that should facilitate further research on this understudied receptor.
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