Prospect of Anterior Gradient 2 homodimer inhibition via repurposing FDA-approved drugs using structure-based virtual screening

Shafi Ullah, Shafi Ullah Khan, Abbas Khan, Muhammad Junaid, Humaira Rafiq, Thet Thet Htar, Yaxue Zhao, Syed Adnan Ali Shah, Abdul Wadood

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1 Citation (Scopus)


Anterior Gradient 2 (AGR2) has recently been reported as a tumor biomarker in various cancers, i.e., breast, prostate and lung cancer. Predominantly, AGR2 exists as a homodimer via a dimerization domain (E60-K64); after it is self-dimerized, it helps FGF2 and VEGF to homo-dimerize and promotes the angiogenesis and the invasion of vascular endothelial cells and fibroblasts. Up till now, no small molecule has been discovered to inhibit the AGR2–AGR2 homodimer. Therefore, the present study was performed to prepare a validated 3D structure of AGR2 by homology modeling and discover a small molecule by screening the FDA-approved drugs library on AGR2 homodimer as a target protein. Thirteen different homology models of AGR2 were generated based on different templates which were narrowed down to 5 quality models sorted by their overall Z-scores. The top homology model based on PDB ID = 3PH9 was selected having the best Z-score and was further assessed by Verify-3D, ERRAT and RAMPAGE analysis. Structure-based virtual screening narrowed down the large library of FDA-approved drugs to ten potential AGR2–AGR2 homodimer inhibitors having FRED score lower than − 7.8 kcal/mol in which the top 5 drugs’ binding stability was counter-validated by molecular dynamic simulation. To sum up, the present study prepared a validated 3D structure of AGR2 and, for the first time reported the discovery of 5 FDA-approved drugs to inhibit AGR2–AGR2 homodimer by using structure-based virtual screening. Moreover, the binding of the top 5 hits with AGR2 was also validated by molecular dynamic simulation. Graphic abstract: A validated 3D structure of Anterior Gradient 2 (AGR2) was prepared by homology modeling, which was used in virtual screening of FDA-approved drugs library for the discovery of prospective inhibitors of AGR2–AGR2 homodimer. 

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1399-1409
Number of pages11
JournalMolecular Diversity
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2022


  • AGR2 homodimer
  • Cancer
  • Dimer inhibitor
  • Drug repositioning
  • Virtual screening

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