Although the 3D structures of active and inactive cannabinoid receptors type 2 (CB2) are available, neither the X-ray crystal nor the cryo-EM structure of CB2-orthosteric ligand-modulator has been resolved, prohibiting the drug discovery and development of CB2 allosteric modulators (AMs). In the present work, we mainly focused on investigating the potential allosteric binding site(s) of CB2. We applied different algorithms or tools to predict the potential allosteric binding sites of CB2 with the existing agonists. Seven potential allosteric sites can be observed for either CB2-CP55940 or CB2-WIN 55,212-2 complex, among which sites B, C, G and K are supported by the reported 3D structures of Class A GPCRs coupled with AMs. Applying our novel algorithm toolset-MCCS, we docked three known AMs of CB2 including Ec2la (C-2), trans-β-caryophyllene (TBC) and cannabidiol (CBD) to each site for further comparisons and quantified the potential binding residues in each allosteric binding site. Sequentially, we selected the most promising binding pose of C-2 in five allosteric sites to conduct the molecular dynamics (MD) simulations. Based on the results of docking studies and MD simulations, we suggest that site H is the most promising allosteric binding site. We plan to conduct bio-assay validations in the future.
Keywords: allosteric binding site; cannabinoid receptor 2; negative allosteric modulators; positive allosteric modulators.