Nicotinic acid has been used clinically for over 40 years in the treatment of dyslipidemia producing a desirable normalization of a range of cardiovascular risk factors, including a marked elevation of high density lipoprotein and a reduction in mortality. The precise mechanism of action of nicotinic acid is unknown, although it is believed that activation of a G(i)-G protein-coupled receptor may contribute. Utilizing available information on the tissue distribution of nicotinic acid receptors, we identified candidate orphan receptors. The selected orphan receptors were screened for responses to nicotinic acid, in an assay for activation of G(i)-G proteins. Here we describe the identification of the G protein-coupled receptor HM74 as a low affinity receptor for nicotinic acid. We then describe the subsequent identification of HM74A in follow-up bioinformatics searches and demonstrate that it acts as a high affinity receptor for nicotinic acid and other compounds with related pharmacology. The discovery of HM74A as a molecular target for nicotinic acid may facilitate the discovery of superior drug molecules to treat dyslipidemia.
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