Allosteric Binding Site and Activation Mechanism of Class C G-Protein Coupled Receptors: Metabotropic Glutamate Receptor Family

Feng, Z.; Ma, S.; Hu, G.; Xie, X.-Q.

Aaps Journal 17(3): 737-753


ISSN/ISBN: 1550-7416
PMID: 25762450
DOI: 10.1208/s12248-015-9742-8
Accession: 057161430

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Metabotropic glutamate receptors (mGluR) are mainly expressed in the central nervous system (CNS) and contain eight receptor subtypes, named mGluR1 to mGluR8. The crystal structures of mGluR1 and mGluR5 that are bound with the negative allosteric modulator (NAM) were reported recently. These structures provide a basic model for all class C of G-protein coupled receptors (GPCRs) and may aid in the design of new allosteric modulators for the treatment of CNS disorders. However, these structures are only combined with NAMs in the previous reports. The conformations that are bound with positive allosteric modulator (PAM) or agonist of mGluR1/5 remain unknown. Moreover, the structural information of the other six mGluRs and the comparisons of the mGluRs family have not been explored in terms of their binding pockets, the binding modes of different compounds, and important binding residues. With these crystal structures as the starting point, we built 3D structural models for six mGluRs by using homology modeling and molecular dynamics (MD) simulations. We systematically compared their allosteric binding sites/pockets, the important residues, and the selective residues by using a series of comparable dockings with both the NAM and the PAM. Our results show that several residues played important roles for the receptors' selectivity. The observations of detailed interactions between compounds and their correspondent receptors are congruent with the specificity and potency of derivatives or compounds bioassayed in vitro. We then carried out 100 ns MD simulations of mGluR5 (residue 26-832, formed by Venus Flytrap domain, a so-called cysteine-rich domain, and 7 trans-membrane domains) bound with antagonist/NAM and with agonist/PAM. Our results show that both the NAM and the PAM seemed stable in class C GPCRs during the MD. However, the movements of "ionic lock," of trans-membrane domains, and of some activation-related residues in 7 trans-membrane domains of mGluR5 were congruent with the findings in class A GPCRs. Finally, we selected nine representative bound structures to perform 30 ns MD simulations for validating the stabilities of interactions, respectively. All these bound structures kept stable during the MD simulations, indicating that the binding poses in this present work are reasonable. We provided new insight into better understanding of the structural and functional roles of the mGluRs family and facilitated the future structure-based design of novel ligands of mGluRs family with therapeutic potential.