New publication on native GPCR stabilization

CALIXAR announces the publication of a new article in Scientific Reports – Nature entitled “Enabling NMR-Based Fragment Screening Using Stabilized Native GPCR”. (Igonet et al., 2018)


Structural studies of integral membrane proteins have been limited by the intrinsic conformational flexibility and the need to stabilize the proteins in solution. Stabilization by mutagenesis was very successful for structural biology of G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs). However, it requires heavy protein engineering and may introduce structural deviations.

In this article we describe the use of specific calixarenes-based detergents for native GPCR stabilization. Wild type, full length human adenosine A2A receptor was used to exemplify the approach. We could stabilize native, glycosylated, non-aggregated and homogenous A2AR that maintained its ligand binding capacity. The benefit of the preparation for fragment screening, using the Saturation-Transfer Difference nuclear magnetic resonance (STD-NMR) experiment is reported. The binding of the agonist adenosine and the antagonist caffeine were observed and competition experiments with CGS-21680 and ZM241385 were performed, demonstrating the feasibility of the STD-based fragment screening on the native A2A receptor.


Interestingly, adenosine was shown to bind a second binding site in the presence of the agonist CGS-21680 which corroborates published results obtained with molecular dynamics simulation. Fragment-like compounds identified using STD-NMR showed antagonistic effects on A2AR in the cAMP cellular assay. Taken together, our study shows that stabilization of native GPCRs represents an attractive approach for STD-based fragment screening and drug design.

This exciting work will be presented by Anass JAWHARI, CSO of CALIXAR, at the 5th NovALIX Conference in Boston in June 2018.


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