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Papers of the Week

Papers: 9 Jul 2022 - 15 Jul 2022

Pharmacology/Drug Development


2022 Jun 18

J Mol Graph Model


Virtual drug repurposing study for the CGRPR identifies pentagastrin and leuprorelin as putative candidates.



Calcitonin gene-related peptide receptor (CGRPR) is a heterodimer consisting of CLR and RAMP1 proteins. Activation of the CGRPR with the endogenous peptide CGRP is known to play a crucial role in migraine pathophysiology. CGRP occupies two regions in the CGRPR upon binding, namely ectodomain and transmembrane sites (sites 1 and 2, respectively). The disruption of the CGRPR heterodimer interface is one of the main strategies to prevent CGRPR activation and its resulting effects. So far, FDA approved monoclonal antibodies and small molecule gepant inhibitors are considered for the treatment of acute or chronic migraine symptoms. However, most of these gepants have severe side effects. Thus, in this study, a virtual drug repurposing approach is applied to CGRPR to find alternative or better molecules that would have a potential to inhibit or block the CLR – RAMP1 interface compared to known gepant molecules. A small molecule library of FDA-approved molecules was screened in these two different binding sites, further simulations were performed and analyzed. The objectives of this study are (i) to repurpose an FDA-approved drug having more potent features for CGRPR inhibition compared to gepants, and (ii) to examine whether the transmembrane binding site (site 2) accepts small molecules or small peptide analogues for binding. As a result of this extensive in silico analysis, two molecules were identified, namely pentagastrin and leuprorelin. It is shown that FDA approved compound rimegepant and the identified pentagastrin molecules form and maintain the interactions through CLR W72 and RAMP1 W74, which are the residues revealed to have an important role in CGRPR antagonism at binding site 1. At binding site 2, the interactions needed to be formed for CGRP binding are not captured by rimegepant nor leuprorelin, yet leuprorelin forms more interactions throughout the simulations, meaning that small molecules are also capable of binding to site 2. Moreover, it is found that the crucial interactions for receptor signaling and heterodimerization occurred between CLR and RAMP1 interface are disrupted more with the ligands bound to ectodomain site, rather than the transmembrane domain. These findings of pentagastrin and leuprorelin molecules are recommended to be considered in further de novo drug development and/or experimental studies related to CGRPR signaling blockade and antagonism.