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Mechanism of β2AR regulation by an intracellular positive allosteric modulator

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Science  28 Jun 2019:
Vol. 364, Issue 6447, pp. 1283-1287
DOI: 10.1126/science.aaw8981

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Positive reinforcement in a GPCR

Many drug discovery efforts focus on G protein–coupled receptors (GPCRs), a class of receptors that regulate many physiological processes. An exemplar is the β2-adrenergic receptor (β2AR), which is targeted by both blockers and agonists to treat cardiovascular and respiratory diseases. Most GPCR drugs target the primary (orthosteric) ligand binding site, but binding at allosteric sites can modulate activation. Because such allosteric sites are less conserved, they could possibly be targeted more specifically. Liu et al. report the crystal structure of β2AR bound to both an orthosteric agonist and a positive allosteric modulator that increases receptor activity. The structure suggests why the modulator compound is selective for β2AR over the closely related β1AR. Furthermore, the structure reveals that the modulator acts by enhancing orthosteric agonist binding and stabilizing the active conformation of the receptor.

Science, this issue p. 1283

Abstract

Drugs targeting the orthosteric, primary binding site of G protein–coupled receptors are the most common therapeutics. Allosteric binding sites, elsewhere on the receptors, are less well-defined, and so less exploited clinically. We report the crystal structure of the prototypic β2-adrenergic receptor in complex with an orthosteric agonist and compound-6FA, a positive allosteric modulator of this receptor. It binds on the receptor’s inner surface in a pocket created by intracellular loop 2 and transmembrane segments 3 and 4, stabilizing the loop in an α-helical conformation required to engage the G protein. Structural comparison explains the selectivity of the compound for β2- over the β1-adrenergic receptor. Diversity in location, mechanism, and selectivity of allosteric ligands provides potential to expand the range of receptor drugs.

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