Structural insight into tetrameric hTRPV1 from homology modeling, molecular docking, molecular dynamics simulation, virtual screening, and bioassay validations

J Chem Inf Model. 2015 Mar 23;55(3):572-88. doi: 10.1021/ci5007189. Epub 2015 Feb 18.


The transient receptor potential vanilloid type 1 (TRPV1) is a heat-activated cation channel protein, which contributes to inflammation, acute and persistent pain. Antagonists of human TRPV1 (hTRPV1) represent a novel therapeutic approach for the treatment of pain. Developing various antagonists of hTRPV1, however, has been hindered by the unavailability of a 3D structure of hTRPV1. Recently, the 3D structures of rat TRPV1 (rTRPV1) in the presence and absence of ligand have been reported as determined by cryo-EM. rTRPV1 shares 85.7% sequence identity with hTRPV1. In the present work, we constructed and reported the 3D homology tetramer model of hTRPV1 based on the cryo-EM structures of rTRPV1. Molecular dynamics (MD) simulations, energy minimizations, and prescreen were applied to select and validate the best model of hTRPV1. The predicted binding pocket of hTRPV1 consists of two adjacent monomers subunits, which were congruent with the experimental rTRPV1 data and the cyro-EM structures of rTRPV1. The detailed interactions between hTRPV1 and its antagonists or agonists were characterized by molecular docking, which helped us to identify the important residues. Conformational changes of hTRPV1 upon antagonist/agonist binding were also explored by MD simulation. The different movements of compounds led to the different conformational changes of monomers in hTRPV1, indicating that TRPV1 works in a concerted way, resembling some other channel proteins such as aquaporins. We observed that the selective filter was open when hTRPV1 bound with an agonist during MD simulation. For the lower gate of hTRPV1, we observed large similarities between hTRPV1 bound with antagonist and with agonist. A five-point pharmacophore model based on several antagonists was established, and the structural model was used to screen in silico for new antagonists for hTRPV1. By using the 3D TRPV1 structural model above, the pilot in silico screening has begun to yield promising hits with activity as hTRPV1 antagonists, several of which showed substantial potency.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Binding Sites
  • Binding, Competitive
  • CHO Cells
  • Calcium / metabolism
  • Cell Line
  • Computer Simulation
  • Cricetulus
  • Cryoelectron Microscopy
  • Drug Evaluation, Preclinical / methods*
  • Humans
  • Ligands
  • Models, Molecular*
  • Molecular Docking Simulation
  • Molecular Dynamics Simulation
  • Protein Conformation
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Structural Homology, Protein
  • TRPV Cation Channels / agonists
  • TRPV Cation Channels / antagonists & inhibitors
  • TRPV Cation Channels / chemistry*
  • TRPV Cation Channels / metabolism*


  • Ligands
  • TRPV Cation Channels
  • TRPV1 protein, human
  • Calcium