Adiponectin is a mammalian hormone that exerts anti-diabetic, anti-cancer and cardioprotective effects through interaction with its major ubiquitously expressed plasma membrane localized receptors, AdipoR1 and AdipoR2. Here, we report a Saccharomyces cerevisiae based method for investigating agonist-AdipoR interactions that is amenable for high-throughput scale-up and can be used to study both AdipoRs separately. Agonist-AdipoR1 interactions are detected using a split firefly luciferase assay based on reconstitution of firefly luciferase (Luc) activity due to juxtaposition of its N- and C-terminal fragments, NLuc and CLuc, by ligand induced interaction of the chimeric proteins CLuc-AdipoR1 and APPL1-NLuc (adaptor protein containing pleckstrin homology domain, phosphotyrosine binding domain and leucine zipper motif 1-NLuc) in a S. cerevisiae strain lacking the yeast homolog of AdipoRs (Izh2p). The assay monitors the earliest known step in the adiponectin-AdipoR anti-diabetic signaling cascade. We demonstrate that reconstituted Luc activity can be detected in colonies or cells using a CCD camera and quantified in cell suspensions using a microplate reader. AdipoR1-APPL1 interaction occurs in absence of ligand but can be stimulated specifically by agonists such as adiponectin and the tobacco protein osmotin that was shown to have AdipoR-dependent adiponectin-like biological activity in mammalian cells. To further validate this assay, we have modeled the three dimensional structures of receptor-ligand complexes of membrane-embedded AdipoR1 with cyclic peptides derived from osmotin or osmotin-like plant proteins. We demonstrate that the calculated AdipoR1-peptide binding energies correlate with the peptides' ability to behave as AdipoR1 agonists in the split luciferase assay. Further, we demonstrate agonist-AdipoR dependent activation of protein kinase A (PKA) signaling and AMP activated protein kinase (AMPK) phosphorylation in S. cerevisiae, which are homologous to important mammalian adiponectin-AdipoR1 signaling pathways. This system should facilitate the development of therapeutic inventions targeting adiponectin and/or AdipoR physiology.
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