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Open Access Research article

Binding mode prediction of conformationally restricted anandamide analogs within the CB1 receptor

Lea W Padgett12, Allyn C Howlett13 and Joong-Youn Shim1*

Author Affiliations

1 Neuroscience of Drug Abuse Research Program, Julius L. Chambers Biomedical/Biotechnology Research Institute, North Carolina Central University, Durham, NC 27707, USA

2 Department of Chemistry and Physics, Armstrong Atlantic State University, Savannah, GA 31419, USA

3 Department of Physiology and Pharmacology, Wake Forest University Health Sciences, Winston-Salem, NC 27157, USA

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Journal of Molecular Signaling 2008, 3:5  doi:10.1186/1750-2187-3-5

Published: 26 February 2008

Abstract

Background

CB1 cannabinoid receptors are G-protein coupled receptors for endocannabinoids including anandamide and 2-arachidonoylglycerol. Because these arachidonic acid metabolites possess a 20-carbon polyene chain as the alkyl terminal moiety, they are highly flexible with the potential to adopt multiple biologically relevant conformations, particularly those in a bent form. To better understand the molecular interactions associated with binding and steric trigger mechanisms of receptor activation, a series of conformationally-restricted anandamide analogs having a wide range of affinity and efficacy were evaluated.

Results

A CB1 receptor model was constructed to include the extracellular loops, particularly extracellular loop 2 which possesses an internal disulfide linkage. Using both Glide (Schrödinger) and Affinity (Accelrys) docking programs, binding conformations of six anandamide analogs were identified that conform to rules applicable to the potent, efficacious and stereoselective non-classical cannabinoid CP55244. Calculated binding energies of the optimum structures from both procedures correlated well with the reported binding affinity values. The most potent and efficacious of the ligands adopted conformations characterized by interactions with both the helix-3 lysine and hydrophobic residues that interact with CP55244. The other five compounds formed fewer or less energetically favorable interactions with these critical residues. The flexibility of the tested anandamide analogs, measured by torsion angles around the benzene as well as the stretch between side chain moieties, could contribute to the differences in ability to interact with the CB1 receptor.

Conclusion

Analyses of multiple poses of conformationally-restricted anandamide analogs permitted identification of favored amino acid interactions within the CB1 receptor binding pocket. A ligand possessing both high affinity and cannabinoid agonist efficacy was able to interact with both polar and hydrophobic interaction sites utilized by the potent and efficacious non-classical cannabinoid CP55940. In contrast, other analogs characterized by reduced affinity or efficacy exhibited less favorable interactions with those key residues.