Molecular Mechanism of Action for Allosteric Modulators and Agonists in CC-chemokine Receptor 5 (CCR5)

Stefanie Karlshøj, Roxana Maria Amarandi, Olav Larsen, Viktorija Daugvilaite, Anne Steen, Matjaz Brvar, Aurel Pui, Thomas Michael Frimurer, Trond Ulven, Mette Marie Rosenkilde

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The small molecule metal ion chelators bipyridine and terpyridine complexed with Zn(2+) (ZnBip and ZnTerp) act as CCR5 agonists and strong positive allosteric modulators of CCL3 binding to CCR5, weak modulators of CCL4 binding, and competitors for CCL5 binding. Here we describe their binding site using computational modeling, binding, and functional studies on WT and mutated CCR5. The metal ion Zn(2+) is anchored to the chemokine receptor-conserved Glu-283(VII:06/7.39) Both chelators interact with aromatic residues in the transmembrane receptor domain. The additional pyridine ring of ZnTerp binds deeply in the major binding pocket and, in contrast to ZnBip, interacts directly with the Trp-248(VI:13/6.48) microswitch, contributing to its 8-fold higher potency. The impact of Trp-248 was further confirmed by ZnClTerp, a chloro-substituted version of ZnTerp that showed no inherent agonism but maintained positive allosteric modulation of CCL3 binding. Despite a similar overall binding mode of all three metal ion chelator complexes, the pyridine ring of ZnClTerp blocks the conformational switch of Trp-248 required for receptor activation, thereby explaining its lack of activity. Importantly, ZnClTerp becomes agonist to the same extent as ZnTerp upon Ala mutation of Ile-116(III:16/3.40), a residue that constrains the Trp-248 microswitch in its inactive conformation. Binding studies with (125)I-CCL3 revealed an allosteric interface between the chemokine and the small molecule binding site, including residues Tyr-37(I:07/1.39), Trp-86(II:20/2.60), and Phe-109(III:09/3.33) The small molecules and CCL3 approach this interface from opposite directions, with some residues being mutually exploited. This study provides new insight into the molecular mechanism of CCR5 activation and paves the way for future allosteric drugs for chemokine receptors.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number52
Pages (from-to)26860-26874
Publication statusPublished - 2016


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