Molecular sampling of the allosteric binding pocket of the TSH receptor provides discriminative pharmacophores for antagonist and agonists

Biochem Soc Trans. 2013 Feb 1;41(1):213-7. doi: 10.1042/BST20120319.


The TSHR (thyrotropin receptor) is activated endogenously by the large hormone thyrotropin and activated pathologically by auto-antibodies. Both activate and bind at the extracellular domain. Recently, SMLs (small-molecule ligands) have been identified, which bind in an allosteric binding pocket within the transmembrane domain. Modelling driven site-directed mutagenesis of amino acids lining this pocket led to the delineation of activation and inactivation sensitive residues. Modified residues showing CAMs (constitutively activating mutations) indicate signalling-sensitive positions and mark potential trigger points for agonists. Silencing mutations lead to an impairment of basal activity and mark contact points for antagonists. Mapping these residues on to a structural model of TSHR indicates locations where an SML may switch the receptor to an inactive or active conformation. In the present article, we report the effects of SMLs on these signalling-sensitive amino acids at the TSHR. Surprisingly, the antagonistic effect of SML compound 52 was reversed to an agonistic effect, when tested at the CAM Y667A. Switching agonism to antagonism and the reverse by changing either SMLs or residues covering the binding pocket provides detailed knowledge about discriminative pharmacophores. It prepares the basis for rational optimization of new high-affinity antagonists to interfere with the pathogenic activation of the TSHR.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Allosteric Site*
  • Binding Sites
  • Models, Molecular
  • Receptors, Thyrotropin / chemistry
  • Receptors, Thyrotropin / metabolism*


  • Receptors, Thyrotropin