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A modeling strategy for G-protein coupled receptors

Bioinformatik, Institut für Biochemie, Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg, Fahrstr. 17, 91054 Erlangen, Germany

Topical Section: Membrane protein structural biology

Cell responses can be triggered via G-protein coupled receptors (GPCRs) that interact with small molecules, peptides or proteins and transmit the signal over the membrane via structural changes to activate intracellular pathways. GPCRs are characterized by a rather low sequence similarity and exhibit structural differences even for functionally closely related GPCRs. An accurate structure prediction for GPCRs is therefore not straightforward. We propose a computational approach that relies on the generation of several independent models based on different template structures, which are subsequently refined by molecular dynamics simulations. A comparison of their conformational stability and the agreement with GPCR-typical structural features is then used to select a favorable model. This strategy was applied to predict the structure of the herpesviral chemokine receptor US28 by generating three independent models based on the known structures of the chemokine receptors CXCR1, CXCR4, and CCR5. Model refinement and evaluation suggested that the model based on CCR5 exhibits the most favorable structural properties. In particular, the GPCR-typical structural features, such as a conserved water cluster or conserved non-covalent contacts, are present to a larger extent in the model based on CCR5 compared to the other models. A final model validation based on the recently published US28 crystal structure confirms that the CCR5-based model is the most accurate and exhibits 80.8% correctly modeled residues within the transmembrane helices. The structural agreement between the selected model and the crystal structure suggests that our modeling strategy may also be more generally applicable to other GPCRs of unknown structure.
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Copyright Info: © 2016, Heinrich Sticht, et al., licensee AIMS Press. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Licese (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0)

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