Accelerated structure-based design of chemically diverse allosteric modulators of a muscarinic G protein-coupled receptor

Yinglong Miao, Dahlia Anne Goldfeld, Ee Von Moo, Patrick M. Sexton, Arthur Christopoulos, J. Andrew McCammon, Celine Valant

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Design of ligands that provide receptor selectivity has emerged as a new paradigm for drug discovery of G protein-coupled receptors, and may, for certain families of receptors, only be achieved via identification of chemically diverse allosteric modulators. Here, the extracellular vestibule of the M2 muscarinic acetylcholine receptor (mAChR) is targeted for structure-based design of allosteric modulators. Accelerated molecular dynamics (aMD) simulations were performed to construct structural ensembles that account for the receptor flexibility. Compounds obtained from the National Cancer Institute (NCI) were docked to the receptor ensembles. Retrospective docking of known ligands showed that combining aMD simulations with Glide induced fit docking (IFD) provided much-improved enrichment factors, compared with the Glide virtual screening workflow. Glide IFD was thus applied in receptor ensemble docking, and 38 top-ranked NCI compounds were selected for experimental testing. In [3H]N-methylscopolamine radioligand dissociation assays, approximately half of the 38 lead compounds altered the radioligand dissociation rate, a hallmark of allosteric behavior. In further competition binding experiments, we identified 12 compounds with affinity of ≤30 μM. With final functional experiments on six selected compounds, we confirmed four of them as new negative allosteric modulators (NAMs) and one as positive allosteric modulatorofagonist-mediated response at the M2 mAChR. Two of the NAMs showed subtype selectivity without significant effect at the M1 and M3 mAChRs. This study demonstrates an unprecedented successful structure-based approach to identify chemically diverse and selective GPCR allosteric modulators with outstanding potential for further structure-activity relationship studies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)E5675-E5684
Number of pages10
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number38
Publication statusPublished - 20 Sept 2016


  • Affinity
  • Allosteric modulators
  • Cooperativity
  • Ensemble docking
  • GPCR

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