Molecular basis of action of a small-molecule positive allosteric modulator agonist at the type 1 cholecystokinin holoreceptor

Aditya J. Desai, Ingrid Mechin, Karthigeyan Nagarajan, Celine Valant, Denise Wootten, Polo C.H. Lam, Andrew Orry, Ruben Abagyan, Anil Nair, Patrick M. Sexton, Arthur Christopoulos, Laurence J. Miller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Allosteric modulation of receptors provides mechanistic safety while effectively achieving biologic endpoints otherwise difficult or impossible to obtain by other means. The theoretical case has been made for the development of a positive allosteric modulator (PAM) of the type 1 cholecystokinin receptor (CCK1R) having minimal intrinsic agonist activity to enhance meal-induced satiety for the treatment of obesity, while reducing the risk of side effects and/or toxicity. Unfortunately, such a drug does not currently exist. In this work, we have identified a PAM agonist of the CCK1R, SR146131, and determined its putative binding mode and receptor activation mechanism by combining molecular modeling, chimeric CCK1R/CCK2R constructs, and site-directed mutagenesis. We probed the structure–activity relationship of analogs of SR146131 for impact on agonism versus cooperativity of the analogs. This identified structural features that might be responsible for binding affinity and potency while retaining PAM activity. SR146131 and several of its analogs were docked into the receptor structure, which had the natural endogenous peptide agonist, cholecystokinin, already in the bound state (by docking), providing a refined structural model of the intact CCK1R holoreceptor. Both SR146131 and its analogs exhibited unique probe-dependent cooperativity with orthosteric peptide agonists and were simultaneously accommodated in this model, consistent with the derived structure–activity relationships. This provides improved understanding of the molecular basis for CCK1R-directed drug development.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)245-259
Number of pages15
JournalMolecular pharmacology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Medicine
  • Pharmacology


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