Precise functioning and fine-tuning of Toll-like receptor 4 (TLR4) signaling is a critical requirement for the smooth functioning of the innate immune system, since aberrant TLR4 activation causes excessive production of pro-inflammatory cytokines and interferons. This can result in life threatening conditions such as septic shock and other inflammatory disorders. The TRIF-related adaptor molecule (TRAM) adaptor protein is unique to the TLR4 signaling pathway and abrogation of TRAM-mediated TLR4 signaling is a promising strategy for developing therapeutics aimed at disrupting TRAM interactions with other components of the TLR4 signaling complex. The VIPER motif from the vaccinia virus-producing protein, A46 has been reported to disrupt TRAM-TLR4 interactions. We have exploited this information, in combination with homology modeling and docking approaches, to identify a potential binding site on TRAM lined by the BB loop and αC helix. Virtual screening of commercially available small molecules targeting the binding site enabled to short-list 12 small molecules to abrogate TRAM-mediated TLR4 signaling. Molecular dynamics and molecular mechanics calculations have been performed for the analysis of these receptor-ligand interactions.
Keywords: A46; MM-GBSA; TLR4; TRAM; VIPER; docking; homology modeling; induced-fit docking; innate immunity; molecular dynamics simulations; sepsis; therapeutics; virtual screening.