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Molecules 2018, 23(12), 3181; https://doi.org/10.3390/molecules23123181

Molecular Mechanism of Action of RORγt Agonists and Inverse Agonists: Insights from Molecular Dynamics Simulation

Department of Medicinal Chemistry and Key Laboratory of Smart Drug Delivery, Ministry of Education, School of Pharmacy, Fudan University, Shanghai 201203, China
These authors contributed equally to this paper.
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Authors to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editors: Liangren Zhang and Derek J. McPhee
Received: 22 October 2018 / Revised: 25 November 2018 / Accepted: 26 November 2018 / Published: 3 December 2018
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Abstract

As an attractive drug-target, retinoic acid receptor-related orphan receptor-gamma-t (RORγt) has been employed widely to develop clinically relevant small molecular modulators as potent therapy for autoimmune disease and cancer, but its molecular mechanism of action (MOA) remains unclear. In the present study, we designed and discovered two novel RORγt ligands that are similar in structure, but different in efficacy. Using fluorescence resonance energy transfer (FRET) assay, compound 1 was identified as an agonist with an EC50 of 3.7 μM (max. act.: 78%), while compound 2 as an inverse agonist with an IC50 value of 2.0 μM (max. inh.: 61%). We performed molecular dynamics (MD) simulations, and elucidated the MOA of RORγt agonist and inverse agonist. Through the analyses of our MD results, we found that, after RORγt is bound with the agonist 1, the side chain of Trp317 stays in the gauche- conformation, and thus helps to form the hydrogen bond, His479-Trp502, and a large hydrophobic network among H11, H11′, and H12. All these interactions stabilize the H12, and helps the receptor recruit the coactivator. When the RORγt is bound with the inverse agonist 2, the side chain of Trp317 is forced to adopt the trans conformation, and these presumed interactions are partially destroyed. Taken together, the critical role of residue Trp317 could be viewed as the driving force for the activation of RORγt. View Full-Text
Keywords: RORγt; molecular mechanism of action (MOA); agonist; inverse agonist RORγt; molecular mechanism of action (MOA); agonist; inverse agonist
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Sun, N.; Yuan, C.; Ma, X.; Wang, Y.; Gu, X.; Fu, W. Molecular Mechanism of Action of RORγt Agonists and Inverse Agonists: Insights from Molecular Dynamics Simulation. Molecules 2018, 23, 3181.

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