Ligand entry pathways control the chemical space recognized by GPR183

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The G protein-coupled receptor GPR183 is a chemotactic receptor with an important function in the immune system and association with a variety of diseases. It recognizes ligands with diverse physicochemical properties as both the endogenous oxysterol ligand 7α,25-OHC and synthetic molecules can activate the G protein pathway of the receptor. To better understand the ligand promiscuity of GPR183, we utilized both molecular dynamics simulations and cell-based validation experiments. Our work reveals that the receptor possesses two ligand entry channels: one lateral between transmembrane helices 4 and 5 facing the membrane, and one facing the extracellular environment. Using enhanced sampling, we provide a detailed structural model of 7α,25-OHC entry through the lateral membrane channel. Importantly, the first ligand recognition point at the receptor surface has been captured in diverse experimentally solved structures of different GPCRs. The proposed ligand binding pathway is supported by in vitro data employing GPR183 mutants with a sterically blocked lateral entrance, which display diminished binding and signaling. In addition, computer simulations and experimental validation confirm the existence of a polar water channel which might serve as an alternative entrance gate for less lipophilic ligands from the extracellular milieu. Our study reveals knowledge to understand GPR183 functionality and ligand recognition with implications for the development of drugs for this receptor. Beyond, our work provides insights into a general mechanism GPCRs may use to respond to chemically diverse ligands.

Original languageEnglish
JournalChemical Science
Issue number39
Pages (from-to)10671-10683
Publication statusPublished - 2023

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© 2023 The Royal Society of Chemistry.

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