The P2X7 receptor is a calcium permeable cationic channel activated by extracellular ATP, playing a role in chronic pain, osteoporosis and arthritis. A number of potential lead compounds are inactive against the rat isoform, despite good activity against the human homologue, making animal model studies problematic. Here we have produced P2X7 models and docked three structurally distinct inhibitors using in silico approaches and show they have a similar mode of binding in which Phe95 plays a key role by forming pi-stacking interactions. Importantly this residue is replaced by Leu in the rat P2X7 receptor resulting in a significantly reduced binding affinity. This work provides new insights into binding of P2X7 inhibitors and shows the structural difference in human and rat P2X7 receptors which results in a difference in affinity. Such information is useful both for the rational design of inhibitors based on these scaffolds and also the way in which these compounds are tested in animal models.
Keywords: AZ11645373; Adenosine triphosphate; KN62; P2X7 receptor; SB203580.
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