Ligand binding to human prostaglandin E receptor EP4 at the lipid-bilayer interface

Nat Chem Biol. 2019 Jan;15(1):18-26. doi: 10.1038/s41589-018-0131-3. Epub 2018 Dec 3.


Prostaglandin E receptor EP4, a G-protein-coupled receptor, is involved in disorders such as cancer and autoimmune disease. Here, we report the crystal structure of human EP4 in complex with its antagonist ONO-AE3-208 and an inhibitory antibody at 3.2 Å resolution. The structure reveals that the extracellular surface is occluded by the extracellular loops and that the antagonist lies at the interface with the lipid bilayer, proximal to the highly conserved Arg316 residue in the seventh transmembrane domain. Functional and docking studies demonstrate that the natural agonist PGE2 binds in a similar manner. This structural information also provides insight into the ligand entry pathway from the membrane bilayer to the EP4 binding pocket. Furthermore, the structure reveals that the antibody allosterically affects the ligand binding of EP4. These results should facilitate the design of new therapeutic drugs targeting both orthosteric and allosteric sites in this receptor family.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Allosteric Regulation
  • Animals
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal / chemistry
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal / metabolism
  • Binding Sites
  • Caprylates / chemistry
  • Caprylates / metabolism
  • Crystallography, X-Ray
  • Epoprostenol / analogs & derivatives
  • Epoprostenol / chemistry
  • Epoprostenol / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Ligands
  • Lipid Bilayers
  • Molecular Docking Simulation
  • Naphthalenes / chemistry
  • Naphthalenes / metabolism
  • Phenyl Ethers / chemistry
  • Phenyl Ethers / metabolism
  • Phenylbutyrates / chemistry
  • Phenylbutyrates / metabolism
  • Receptors, Prostaglandin E, EP4 Subtype / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Receptors, Prostaglandin E, EP4 Subtype / chemistry*
  • Receptors, Prostaglandin E, EP4 Subtype / genetics
  • Receptors, Prostaglandin E, EP4 Subtype / metabolism*
  • Spodoptera / genetics


  • 4-(4-cyano-2-(2-(4-fluoronaphthalen-1-yl)propionylamino)phenyl)butyric acid
  • AGN 34 compound
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal
  • Caprylates
  • KAG-308
  • Ligands
  • Lipid Bilayers
  • Naphthalenes
  • PTGER4 protein, human
  • Phenyl Ethers
  • Phenylbutyrates
  • Receptors, Prostaglandin E, EP4 Subtype
  • Epoprostenol