Virtual screen for ligands of orphan G protein-coupled receptors

J Chem Inf Model. 2005 Sep-Oct;45(5):1402-14. doi: 10.1021/ci050006d.


This paper describes a virtual screening methodology that generates a ranked list of high-binding small molecule ligands for orphan G protein-coupled receptors (oGPCRs), circumventing the requirement for receptor three-dimensional structure determination. Features representing the receptor are based only on physicochemical properties of primary amino acid sequence, and ligand features use the two-dimensional atomic connection topology and atomic properties. An experimental screen comprised nearly 2 million hypothetical oGPCR-ligand complexes, from which it was observed that the top 1.96% predicted affinity scores corresponded to "highly active" ligands against orphan receptors. Results representing predicted high-scoring novel ligands for many oGPCRs are presented here. Validation of the method was carried out in several ways: (1) A random permutation of the structure-activity relationship of the training data was carried out; by comparing test statistic values of the randomized and nonshuffled data, we conclude that the value obtained with nonshuffled data is unlikely to have been encountered by chance. (2) Biological activities linked to the compounds with high cross-target binding affinity were analyzed using computed log-odds from a structure-based program. This information was correlated with literature citations where GPCR-related pathways or processes were linked to the bioactivity in question. (3) Anecdotal, out-of-sample predictions for nicotinic targets and known ligands were performed, with good accuracy in the low-to-high "active" binding range. (4) An out-of-sample consistency check using the commercial antipsychotic drug olanzapine produced "active" to "highly-active" predicted affinities for all oGPCRs in our study, an observation that is consistent with documented findings of cross-target affinity of this compound for many different GPCRs. It is suggested that this virtual screening approach may be used in support of the functional characterization of oGPCRs by identifying potential cognate ligands. Ultimately, this approach may have implications for pharmaceutical therapies to modulate the activity of faulty or disease-related cellular signaling pathways. In addition to application to cell surface receptors, this approach is a generalized strategy for discovery of small molecules that may bind intracellular enzymes and involve protein-protein interactions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Drug Evaluation, Preclinical / methods*
  • Ligands*
  • Protein Binding
  • Receptors, G-Protein-Coupled / chemistry
  • Receptors, G-Protein-Coupled / metabolism*
  • Software
  • Structure-Activity Relationship


  • Ligands
  • Receptors, G-Protein-Coupled