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Structural Basis for Molecular Recognition at Serotonin Receptors

Science  03 May 2013:
Vol. 340, Issue 6132, pp. 610-614
DOI: 10.1126/science.1232807

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Dissecting Serotonin Receptors

Serotonin receptors are the targets for many widely used drugs prescribed to treat ailments from depression to obesity and migraine headaches (see the Perspective by Palczewski and Kiser). C. Wang et al. (p. 610, published online 21 March) and Wacker et al. (p. 615, published online 21 March) describe crystal structures of two members of the serotonin family of receptors bound to antimigraine medications or to a precursor of the hallucinogenic drug LSD. Subtle differences in the way particular ligands bind to the receptors cause substantial differences in the signals generated by the receptor and the consequent biological responses. The structures reveal how the same ligand can activate one or both of the two main serotonin receptor signaling mechanisms, depending on which particular receptor it binds.

Abstract

Serotonin or 5-hydroxytryptamine (5-HT) regulates a wide spectrum of human physiology through the 5-HT receptor family. We report the crystal structures of the human 5-HT1B G protein–coupled receptor bound to the agonist antimigraine medications ergotamine and dihydroergotamine. The structures reveal similar binding modes for these ligands, which occupy the orthosteric pocket and an extended binding pocket close to the extracellular loops. The orthosteric pocket is formed by residues conserved in the 5-HT receptor family, clarifying the family-wide agonist activity of 5-HT. Compared with the structure of the 5-HT2B receptor, the 5-HT1B receptor displays a 3 angstrom outward shift at the extracellular end of helix V, resulting in a more open extended pocket that explains subtype selectivity. Together with docking and mutagenesis studies, these structures provide a comprehensive structural basis for understanding receptor-ligand interactions and designing subtype-selective serotonergic drugs.

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