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ACS Omega




Pain drugs targeting mu-opioid receptors face major addiction problems that have caused an epidemic. The delta-opioid receptor (DOR) has shown to not cause addictive effects when bound to an agonist. While the active conformation of the DOR in complex with agonist DPI-287 has been recently solved, there are still no FDA-approved agonists targeting it, providing the opportunity for structure-based virtual screening. In this study, the conformational plasticity of the DOR was probed using molecular dynamics (MD) simulations, identifying two representative conformations from clustering analysis. The two MD conformations as well as the crystal conformation of DOR were used to screen novel compounds from the ZINC database (17 million compounds), in which 69 drugs were picked as potential compounds based on their docking scores. Notably, 37 out of the 69 compounds were obtained from the simulated conformations. The binding stability of the 69 compounds was further investigated using MD simulations. Based on the MM-GBSA binding energy and the predicted drug properties, eight compounds were chosen as the most favorable, six of which were from the simulated conformations. Using a dynamic network model, the communication between the crystal agonist and the top eight molecules with the receptor was analyzed to confirm if these novel compounds share a similar activation mechanism to the crystal ligand. Encouragingly, docking of these eight compounds to the other two opioid receptors (kappa and mu) suggests their good selectivity toward DOR.


Copyright © 2023 The Authors. Published by American Chemical Society. This publication is licensed under a CC-BY license.

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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.