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Keywords:

  • GLP-1;
  • GPCR;
  • exendin-4;
  • exenatide;
  • liraglutide;
  • diabetes;
  • glucagon;
  • insulin

Glucagon-like peptide-1(7-36)amide (GLP-1) is a 30-residue peptide hormone released from intestinal L cells following nutrient consumption. It potentiates the glucose-induced secretion of insulin from pancreatic beta cells, increases insulin expression, inhibits beta-cell apoptosis, promotes beta-cell neogenesis, reduces glucagon secretion, delays gastric emptying, promotes satiety and increases peripheral glucose disposal. These multiple effects have generated a great deal of interest in the discovery of long-lasting agonists of the GLP-1 receptor (GLP-1R) in order to treat type 2 diabetes. This review article summarizes the literature regarding the discovery of GLP-1 and its physiological functions. The structure, function and sequence–activity relationships of the hormone and its natural analogue exendin-4 (Ex4) are reviewed in detail. The current knowledge of the structure of GLP-1R, a Family B GPCR, is summarized and discussed, before its known interactions with the principle peptide ligands are described and summarized. Finally, progress in discovering non-peptide ligands of GLP-1R is reviewed. GLP-1 is clearly an important hormone linking nutrient consumption with blood sugar control, and therefore knowledge of its structure, function and mechanism of action is of great importance.

LINKED ARTICLES This article is part of a themed section on Secretin Family (Class B) G Protein-Coupled Receptors. To view the other articles in this section visit http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/bph.2012.166.issue-1