GPCR structure-based virtual screening approach for CB2 antagonist search

Jian Zhong Chen, Junmei Wang, Xiang Qun Xie

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

94 Scopus citations


The potential for therapeutic specificity in regulating diseases has made cannabinoid (CB) receptors one of the most important G-protein-coupled receptor (GPCR) targets in search for new drugs. Considering the lack of related 3D experimental structures, we have established a structure-based virtual screening protocol to search for CB2 bioactive antagonists based on the 3D CB2 homology structure model. However, the existing homology-predicted 3D models often deviate from the native structure and therefore may incorrectly bias the in silico design. To overcome this problem, we have developed a 3D testing database query algorithm to examine the constructed 3D CB2 receptor structure model as well as the predicted binding pocket. In the present study, an antagonist-bound CB2 receptor complex model was initially generated using flexible docking simulation and then further optimized by molecular dynamic and mechanical (MD/MM) calculations. The refined 3D structural model of the CB2-ligand complex was then inspected by exploring the interactions between the receptor and ligands in order to predict the potential CB2 binding pocket for its antagonist. The ligand-receptor complex model and the predicted antagonist binding pockets were further processed and validated by FlexX-Pharm docking against a testing compound database that contains known antagonists. Furthermore, a consensus scoring (CScore) function algorithm was established to rank the binding interaction modes of a ligand on the CB2 receptor. Our results indicated that the known antagonists seeded in the testing database can be distinguished from a significant amount of randomly chosen molecules. Our studies demonstrated that the established GPCR structure-based virtual screening approach provided a new strategy with a high potential for in silico identifying novel CB2 antagonist leads based on the homology-generated 3D CB2 structure model.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1626-1637
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Chemical Information and Modeling
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2007

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Chemistry
  • General Chemical Engineering
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Library and Information Sciences


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