Probing the Activation Mechanisms of Agonist DPI-287 to Delta-Opioid Receptor and Novel Agonists Using Ensemble-Based Virtual Screening with Molecular Dynamics Simulations

Emily Dean, Anne Marie Dominique, Americus Palillero, Annie Tran, Nicholas Paradis, Chun Wu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Pain drugs targeting mu-opioid receptors face major addiction problems that have caused an epidemic. The delta-opioid receptor (DOR) has shown to not cause addictive effects when bound to an agonist. While the active conformation of the DOR in complex with agonist DPI-287 has been recently solved, there are still no FDA-approved agonists targeting it, providing the opportunity for structure-based virtual screening. In this study, the conformational plasticity of the DOR was probed using molecular dynamics (MD) simulations, identifying two representative conformations from clustering analysis. The two MD conformations as well as the crystal conformation of DOR were used to screen novel compounds from the ZINC database (17 million compounds), in which 69 drugs were picked as potential compounds based on their docking scores. Notably, 37 out of the 69 compounds were obtained from the simulated conformations. The binding stability of the 69 compounds was further investigated using MD simulations. Based on the MM-GBSA binding energy and the predicted drug properties, eight compounds were chosen as the most favorable, six of which were from the simulated conformations. Using a dynamic network model, the communication between the crystal agonist and the top eight molecules with the receptor was analyzed to confirm if these novel compounds share a similar activation mechanism to the crystal ligand. Encouragingly, docking of these eight compounds to the other two opioid receptors (kappa and mu) suggests their good selectivity toward DOR.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)32404-32423
Number of pages20
JournalACS Omega
Volume8
Issue number36
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 12 2023
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Chemistry
  • General Chemical Engineering

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