G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) are excellent drug targets exploited by majority of the Food and Drug Administration-approved medications, but when modulated, are often accompanied by significant adverse effects. Targeting of other elements in GPCR pathways for improved safety and efficacy is thus an unmet need. The strength of GPCR signaling is tightly regulated by regulators of G protein signaling (RGS) proteins, making them attractive drug targets. We focused on a prominent RGS complex in the brain consisting of RGS7 and its binding partners Gβ5 and R7BP. These complexes play critical roles in regulating multiple GPCRs and essential physiological processes, yet no small molecule modulators are currently available to modify its function. In this study, we report a novel high-throughput approach to screen for small molecule modulators of the intramolecular transitions in the RGS7/Gβ5/R7BP complex known to be involved in its allosteric regulation. We developed a time-resolved fluorescence energy transfer-based in vitro assay that utilizes full-length recombinant proteins and shows consistency, excellent assay statistics, and high level of sensitivity. We demonstrated the potential of this approach by screening two compound libraries (LOPAC 1280 and MicroSource Spectrum). This study confirms the feasibility of the chosen strategy for identifying small molecule modulators of RGS7/Gβ5/R7BP complex for impacting signaling downstream of the GPCRs.
Keywords: R7 binding protein; allosteric modulators; high-throughput screen; regulator of protein signaling 7; time-resolved FRET.