Publication date: Jan 17, 2019
Selective activation of the cannabinoid receptor subtype 2 (CB2) shows promise for treating pain, inflammation, multiple sclerosis, cancer, ischemic/reperfusion injury, and osteoporosis. Target selectivity and off-target side effects are two major limiting factors for orthosteric ligands, and, therefore, the search for allosteric modulators (AMs) is a widely used drug discovery approach. To date, only a limited number of CB2 AMs have been identified, possessing only micromolar activity at best, and the CB2 receptor’s allosteric site(s) are not well characterized. Herein, we used computational approaches including receptor modeling, site mapping, docking, MD simulations and binding free-energy calculations to predict, characterize and validate sites within the complex of the CB2 receptor with bound orthosteric agonist CP55,940. After docking of known negative CB2 allosteric modulators (NAMs), dihydro-gambogic acid (DHGA) and trans-β-caryophyllene (TBC) (note that TBC also shows agonist activity) at the predicted allosteric sites, the best total complex with CB2, CP55,940 and NAM was embedded into a hydrated lipid-bilayer and subjected to a 200 ns molecular dynamics simulation. The presence of an AM affected the CB2-CP55,940 complex, altering the relative positioning of the toggle switch residues and promoting a strong π-π interaction between Phe117 and Trp258. Binding of either TBC or DHGA to a putative allosteric pocket directly adjacent to the orthosteric ligand reduced the binding free energy of CP55,940, which is consistent with the expected effect of a negative AM. The identified allosteric sites present immense scope for the discovery of novel classes of CB2 allosteric modulators.
Pandey, P., Roy, K.K., and Doerksen, R.J. Negative Allosteric Modulators of Cannabinoid Receptor 2: Protein Modeling, Binding Site Identification and Molecular Dynamics Simulations in the Presence of an Orthosteric Agonist. 17170. 2019 J Biomol Struct Dyn.
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