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Strategies for Improved Modeling of GPCR-Drug Complexes: Blind Predictions of Serotonin Receptors Bound to Ergotamine

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journal contribution
posted on 28.07.2014, 00:00 by David Rodríguez, Anirudh Ranganathan, Jens Carlsson
The recent increase in the number of atomic-resolution structures of G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) has contributed to a deeper understanding of ligand binding to several important drug targets. However, reliable modeling of GPCR-ligand complexes for the vast majority of receptors with unknown structure remains to be one of the most challenging goals for computer-aided drug design. The GPCR Dock 2013 assessment, in which researchers were challenged to predict the crystallographic structures of serotonin 5-HT1B and 5-HT2B receptors bound to ergotamine, provided an excellent opportunity to benchmark the current state of this field. Our contributions to GPCR Dock 2013 accurately predicted the binding mode of ergotamine with RMSDs below 1.8 Å for both receptors, which included the best submissions for the 5-HT1B complex. Our models also had the most accurate description of the binding sites and receptor–ligand contacts. These results were obtained using a ligand-guided homology modeling approach, which combines extensive molecular docking screening with incorporation of information from multiple crystal structures and experimentally derived restraints. In this work, we retrospectively analyzed thousands of structures that were generated during the assessment to evaluate our modeling strategies. Major contributors to accuracy were found to be improved modeling of extracellular loop two in combination with the use of molecular docking to optimize the binding site for ligand recognition. Our results suggest that modeling of GPCR-drug complexes has reached a level of accuracy at which structure-based drug design could be applied to a large number of pharmaceutically relevant targets.