Integrated In Silico Fragment-Based Drug Design: Case Study with Allosteric Modulators on Metabotropic Glutamate Receptor 5
GPCR allosteric modulators target at the allosteric binding pockets of G proteincoupled receptors (GPCRs) with indirect influence on the effects of an orthosteric ligand. Such modulators exhibit significant advantages compared to the corresponding orthosteric ligands, including better chemical tractability or physicochemical properties, improved selectivity, and reduced risk of oversensitization towards their receptors. Metabotropic glutamate receptor 5 (mGlu5), a member of class C GPCRs, is a promising therapeutic target for treating many central nervous system diseases. The crystal structure of mGlu5 in the complex with the negative allosteric modulator mavoglurant was recently reported, providing a fundamental model for designing new allosteric modulators. Computational fragment-based drug discovery represents a powerful scaffold-hopping and lead structure-optimization tool for drug design. In the present work, a set of integrated computational methodologies was first used, such as fragment library generation and retrosynthetic combinatorial analysis procedure (RECAP) for novel compound generation. Then, the compounds generated were assessed by benchmark dataset verification, docking studies, and QSAR model simulation. Subsequently, structurally diverse compounds, with reported or unreported scaffolds, can be observed from top 20 in silico synthesized compounds, which were predicted to be potential mGlu5 modulators. In silico compounds with reported scaffolds may fill SAR holes in known, patented series of mGlu5 modulators. And the generation of compounds without reported tests on mGluR indicates that our approach is doable for exploring and designing novel compounds. Our case study of designing allosteric modulators on mGlu5 demonstrated that the established computational fragment-based approach is a useful methodology for facilitating new compound design in the future.