Bioluminescence resonance energy transfer-based biosensors allow monitoring of ligand- and transducer-mediated GPCR conformational changes.
ABSTRACT: G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) are seven-transmembrane proteins that mediate a variety of cellular response which make them a target of choice for drug development in many indications. It is now well established that GPCRs can adopt several distinct conformations that can be differentially stabilized by various ligands resulting in different biological outcomes, a concept known as functional selectivity. However, due to the highly hydrophobic nature of GPCRs, tools to monitor these conformational ensembles are limited and addressing their conformation dynamics remains a challenge with current structural biology approaches. Here we describe new bioluminescent resonance energy transfer-based biosensors that can probe the conformational rearrangement promoted by ligands with different signaling efficacies as well as the impact of transducers such as G proteins and ?-arrestin on these conformational transitions. The design of such sensors for other receptors should be useful to further explore the structural determinants of GPCR functional selectivity.
Project description:G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) are seven integral transmembrane proteins that are the primary targets of almost 30% of approved drugs and continue to represent a major focus of pharmaceutical research. All of GPCR targeted medicines were discovered by classical medicinal chemistry approaches. After the first GPCR crystal structures were determined, the docking screens using these structures lead to discovery of more novel and potent ligands. There are over 360 pharmaceutically relevant GPCRs in the human genome and to date about only 30 of structures have been determined. For these reasons, computational techniques such as homology modeling and molecular dynamics simulations have proven their usefulness to explore the structure and function of GPCRs. Furthermore, structure-based drug design and in silico screening (High Throughput Docking) are still the most common computational procedures in GPCRs drug discovery. Moreover, ligand-based methods such as three-dimensional quantitative structure-selectivity relationships, are the ideal molecular modeling approaches to rationalize the activity of tested GPCR ligands and identify novel GPCR ligands. In this review, we discuss the most recent advances for the computational approaches to effectively guide selectivity and affinity of ligands. We also describe novel approaches in medicinal chemistry, such as the development of biased agonists, allosteric modulators, and bivalent ligands for class A GPCRs. Furthermore, we highlight some knockout mice models in discovering biased signaling selectivity.
Project description:A long-held tenet of molecular pharmacology is that canonical signal transduction mediated by G-protein-coupled receptor (GPCR) coupling to heterotrimeric G proteins is confined to the plasma membrane. Evidence supporting this traditional view is based on analytical methods that provide limited or no subcellular resolution. It has been subsequently proposed that signalling by internalized GPCRs is restricted to G-protein-independent mechanisms such as scaffolding by arrestins, or GPCR activation elicits a discrete form of persistent G protein signalling, or that internalized GPCRs can indeed contribute to the acute G-protein-mediated response. Evidence supporting these various latter hypotheses is indirect or subject to alternative interpretation, and it remains unknown if endosome-localized GPCRs are even present in an active form. Here we describe the application of conformation-specific single-domain antibodies (nanobodies) to directly probe activation of the ?2-adrenoceptor, a prototypical GPCR, and its cognate G protein, Gs (ref. 12), in living mammalian cells. We show that the adrenergic agonist isoprenaline promotes receptor and G protein activation in the plasma membrane as expected, but also in the early endosome membrane, and that internalized receptors contribute to the overall cellular cyclic AMP response within several minutes after agonist application. These findings provide direct support for the hypothesis that canonical GPCR signalling occurs from endosomes as well as the plasma membrane, and suggest a versatile strategy for probing dynamic conformational change in vivo.
Project description:Adenosine receptors are involved in many pathological conditions and are thus promising drug targets. However, developing drugs that target this GPCR subfamily is a challenging task. A number of drug candidates fail due to lack of selectivity which results in unwanted side effects. The extensive structural similarity of adenosine receptors complicates the design of selective ligands. The problem of selective targeting is a general concern in GPCRs, and in this respect adenosine receptors are a prototypical example. Here we use enhanced sampling simulations to decipher the determinants of selectivity of ligands in A2a and A1 adenosine receptors. Our model shows how small differences in the binding pocket and in the water network around the ligand can be leveraged to achieve selectivity.
Project description:Monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) have been used for decades as tools to probe the biology and pharmacology of receptors in cells and tissues. They are also increasingly being developed for clinical purposes against a broad range of targets, albeit to a lesser extent for G-protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) relative to other therapeutic targets. Recent pharmacological, structural and biophysical data have provided a great deal of new insight into the molecular details, complexity and regulation of GPCR function. Whereas GPCRs used to be viewed as having either "on" or "off" conformational states, it is now recognized that their structures may be finely tuned by ligands and other interacting proteins, leading to the selective activation of specific signaling pathways. This information coupled with new technologies for the selection of mAbs targeting GPCRs will be increasingly deployed for the development of highly selective mAbs that recognize conformational determinants leading to novel therapeutics.
Project description:G-protein coupled receptors (GPCRs) are a class of drug targets of primary importance. However, receptor assays are based on measurement of either ligand displacement or downstream functional responses, rather than direct observation of ligand binding. Issues of allosteric modulation, probe dependence, and functional selectivity create challenges in selecting suitable assays formats. Therefore, a method that directly measures GPCR-ligand interactions, independent of binding site, probe, and signaling pathway would be a useful primary and orthogonal screening method. We have developed a GPCR biosensor assay protocol that offers the opportunity for high-throughput label-free screening that directly measures GPCR-ligand interactions. The biosensor-based direct screening method identifies the interaction of both orthosteric and allosteric ligands with solubilized, native GPCRs, in a label-free and cell-free environment, thus overcoming the limitations of indirect and displacement assay methods. We exemplify the method by the discovery of novel ligands for the chemokine receptor, CCR5, that are ligand efficient fragments.
Project description:The selective coupling of G-protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) to specific G proteins is critical to trigger the appropriate physiological response. However, the determinants of selective binding have remained elusive. Here we reveal the existence of a selectivity barcode (that is, patterns of amino acids) on each of the 16 human G proteins that is recognized by distinct regions on the approximately 800 human receptors. Although universally conserved positions in the barcode allow the receptors to bind and activate G proteins in a similar manner, different receptors recognize the unique positions of the G-protein barcode through distinct residues, like multiple keys (receptors) opening the same lock (G protein) using non-identical cuts. Considering the evolutionary history of GPCRs allows the identification of these selectivity-determining residues. These findings lay the foundation for understanding the molecular basis of coupling selectivity within individual receptors and G proteins.
Project description:Allosteric modulation of GPCRs has initiated a new era of basic and translational discovery, filled with therapeutic promise yet fraught with caveats. Allosteric ligands stabilize unique conformations of the GPCR that afford fundamentally new receptors, capable of novel pharmacology, unprecedented subtype selectivity, and unique signal bias. This review provides a comprehensive overview of the basics of GPCR allosteric pharmacology, medicinal chemistry, drug metabolism, and validated approaches to address each of the major challenges and caveats. Then, the review narrows focus to highlight recent advances in the discovery of allosteric ligands for metabotropic glutamate receptor subtypes 1-5 and 7 (mGlu1-5,7) highlighting key concepts ("molecular switches", signal bias, heterodimers) and practical solutions to enable the development of tool compounds and clinical candidates. The review closes with a section on late-breaking new advances with allosteric ligands for other GPCRs and emerging data for endogenous allosteric modulators.
Project description:The rapid growth of structural information for G-protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) has led to a greater understanding of their structure, function, selectivity, and ligand binding. Although novel ligands have been identified using methods such as virtual screening, computationally driven lead optimization has been possible only in isolated cases because of challenges associated with predicting binding free energies for related compounds. Here, we provide a systematic characterization of the performance of free-energy perturbation (FEP) calculations to predict relative binding free energies of congeneric ligands binding to GPCR targets using a consistent protocol and no adjustable parameters. Using the FEP+ package, first we validated the protocol, which includes a full lipid bilayer and explicit solvent, by predicting the binding affinity for a total of 45 different ligands across four different GPCRs (adenosine A2AAR, ?1 adrenergic, CXCR4 chemokine, and ? opioid receptors). Comparison with experimental binding affinity measurements revealed a highly predictive ranking correlation (average spearman ? = 0.55) and low root-mean-square error (0.80 kcal/mol). Next, we applied FEP+ in a prospective project, where we predicted the affinity of novel, potent adenosine A2A receptor (A2AR) antagonists. Four novel compounds were synthesized and tested in a radioligand displacement assay, yielding affinity values in the nanomolar range. The affinity of two out of the four novel ligands (plus three previously reported compounds) was correctly predicted (within 1 kcal/mol), including one compound with approximately a tenfold increase in affinity compared to the starting compound. Detailed analyses of the simulations underlying the predictions provided insights into the structural basis for the two cases where the affinity was overpredicted. Taken together, these results establish a protocol for systematically applying FEP+ to GPCRs and provide guidelines for identifying potent molecules in drug discovery lead optimization projects.
Project description:G-protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) represent one of the most important classes of drug targets. The discovery of new GCPR therapeutics would greatly benefit from the development of a generalizable high-throughput assay to directly monitor their activation or de-activation. Here we screened a variety of labels inserted into the third intracellular loop and the C-terminus of the ?2A-adrenergic receptor and used fluorescence (FRET) and bioluminescence resonance energy transfer (BRET) to monitor ligand-binding and activation dynamics. We then developed a universal intramolecular BRET receptor sensor design to quantify efficacy and potency of GPCR ligands in intact cells and real time. We demonstrate the transferability of the sensor design by cloning ?2-adrenergic and PTH1-receptor BRET sensors and monitored their efficacy and potency. For all biosensors, the Z factors were well above 0.5 showing the suitability of such design for microtiter plate assays. This technology will aid the identification of novel types of GPCR ligands.
Project description:G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) are cell surface receptors that respond to a wide variety of stimuli, from light, odorants, hormones, and neurotransmitters to proteins and extracellular calcium. GPCRs represent the largest family of signaling proteins targeted by many clinically used drugs. Recent studies shed light on the conformational changes that accompany GPCR activation and the structural state of the receptor necessary for the interactions with the three classes of proteins that preferentially bind active GPCRs, G proteins, G protein-coupled receptor kinases (GRKs), and arrestins. Importantly, structural and biophysical studies also revealed activation-related conformational changes in these three types of signal transducers. Here, we summarize what is already known and point out questions that still need to be answered. Clear understanding of the structural basis of signaling by GPCRs and their interaction partners would pave the way to designing signaling-biased proteins with scientific and therapeutic potential.