G-protein coupled receptors (GPCRs) are the primary target class of currently marketed drugs, accounting for about a quarter of all drug targets of approved medicines. However, almost all the screening efforts for novel ligand discovery rely exclusively on cellular systems overexpressing the receptors. An alternative ligand discovery strategy is a fragment-based drug discovery, where low molecular weight compounds, known as fragments, are screened as initial starting points for optimization. However, the screening of fragment libraries usually employs biophysical screening methods, and as such, it has not been routinely applied to membrane proteins. We present here a surface plasmon resonance biosensor approach that enables, cell-free, label-free, fragment screening that directly measures fragment interactions with wild-type GPCRs. We exemplify the method by the discovery of novel, selective, high affinity antagonists of human β2 adrenoceptor.
Keywords: Fragment screening; G-protein coupled receptors; surface plasmon resonance; β2 adrenoceptor.