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Allosteric modulation of GPCRs: From structural insights to in silico drug discovery

October 2022

"G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) play critical roles in human physiology and are one of the prime targets for marketed drugs. While traditional drug discovery programs have focused on the development of ligands targeting the binding site of endogenous ligands (orthosteric site), allosteric modulators offer new avenues for the regulation of GPCR function with potential therapeutic benefits. Recent advances in the structure determination of GPCRs bound to different types of allosteric modulators have led to the identification of multiple allosteric sites and significantly enhanced our understanding of how allosteric ligands interact with receptors. These structural insights, together with the plethora of GPCR structures available today, will facilitate structure-based discovery and development of allosteric modulators as novel therapeutic candidates. In this review, we provide a systematic analysis of the currently available GPCR structures in complex with small-molecule allosteric ligands in terms of the location of allosteric pockets, receptor-ligand interactions, and the chemical features of the allosteric modulators. In addition, we summarize current strategies for the identification of allosteric sites as well as ligand-based and structure-based drug discovery and design."

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