Bioluminescence resonance energy transfer based G protein-activation assay to probe duration of antagonism at the histamine H3 receptor

Tamara A.M. Mocking, Maurice C.M.L. Buzink, Rob Leurs, Henry F. Vischer*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Duration of receptor antagonism, measured as the recovery of agonist responsiveness, is gaining attention as a method to evaluate the ‘effective’ target-residence for antagonists. These functional assays might be a good alternative for kinetic binding assays in competition with radiolabeled or fluorescent ligands, as they are performed on intact cells and better reflect consequences of dynamic cellular processes on duration of receptor antagonism. Here, we used a bioluminescence resonance energy transfer (BRET)-based assay that monitors heterotrimeric G protein activation via scavenging of released Venus-Gβ1γ2 by NanoLuc (Nluc)-tagged membrane-associated-C-terminal fragment of G protein-coupled receptor kinase 3 (masGRK3ct-Nluc) as a tool to probe duration of G protein-coupled receptor (GPCR) antagonism. The Gαi-coupled histamine H3 receptor (H3R) was used in this study as prolonged antagonism is associated with adverse events (e.g., insomnia) and consequently, short-residence time ligands might be preferred. Due to its fast and prolonged response, this assay can be used to determine the duration of functional antagonism by measuring the recovery of agonist responsiveness upon washout of pre-bound antagonist, and to assess antagonist re-equilibration time via Schild-plot analysis. Re-equilibration of pre-incubated antagonist with agonist and receptor could be followed in time to monitor the transition from insurmountable to surmountable antagonism. The BRET-based G protein activation assay can detect differences in the recovery of H3R responsiveness and re-equilibration of pre-bound antagonists between the tested H3R antagonists. Fast dissociation kinetics were observed for marketed drug pitolisant (Wakix®) in this assay, which suggests that short residence time might be beneficial for therapeutic targeting of the H3R.

Original languageEnglish
Article number3724
JournalInternational Journal of Molecular Sciences
Issue number15
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2019


  • G protein-coupled receptor (GPCR)
  • Histamine H receptor (HR)
  • Ligand binding kinetics
  • Re-equilibration
  • Residence time


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