Structure-based virtual screening discovers potent and selective adenosine A1 receptor antagonists

Pierre Matricon, Anh TN Nguyen, Duc Duy Vo, Jo Anne Baltos, Mariama Jaiteh, Andreas Luttens, Stefanie Kampen, Arthur Christopoulos, Jan Kihlberg, Lauren Therese May, Jens Carlsson

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1 Citation (Scopus)


Development of subtype-selective leads is essential in drug discovery campaigns targeting G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs). Herein, a structure-based virtual screening approach to rationally design subtype-selective ligands was applied to the A1 and A2A adenosine receptors (A1R and A2AR). Crystal structures of these closely related subtypes revealed a non-conserved subpocket in the binding sites that could be exploited to identify A1R selective ligands. A library of 4.6 million compounds was screened computationally against both receptors using molecular docking and 20 A1R selective ligands were predicted. Of these, seven antagonized the A1R with micromolar activities and several compounds displayed slight selectivity for this subtype. Twenty-seven analogs of two discovered scaffolds were designed, resulting in antagonists with nanomolar potency and up to 76-fold A1R-selectivity. Our results show the potential of structure-based virtual screening to guide discovery and optimization of subtype-selective ligands, which could facilitate the development of safer drugs.

Original languageEnglish
Article number115419
JournalEuropean Journal of Medicinal Chemistry
Publication statusPublished - 5 Sept 2023


  • Computer-aided drug design
  • G protein-coupled receptor
  • Molecular docking
  • Selectivity

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