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Curr Pharm Des. 2004;10(17):2003-13.

Allosteric modulation of G protein-coupled receptors.

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Department of Pharmacology, University of Melbourne, Grattan St., Parkville, 3010, Victoria, Australia.


G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) constitute the largest receptor superfamily in the human genome and represent the most common targets of drug action. Classic agonist and antagonist ligands that act at GPCRs tend to bind to the receptor's orthosteric site, that is, the site recognized by the endogenous agonist for that receptor. However, it is now evident that GPCRs possess additional, extracellular, allosteric binding sites that can be recognized by a variety of small molecule modulator ligands. Allosteric modulators offer many advantages over classic orthosteric ligands as therapeutic agents, including the potential for greater GPCR-subtype selectivity and safety. However, the manifestations of allosterism at GPCRs are many and varied and, in the past, traditional screening methods have generally failed to detect many allosteric modulators. More recently, there have been a number of major advances in high throughput screening, including the advent of cell-based functional assays, which have led to the discovery of more allosteric modulator ligands than previously appreciated. In addition, a number of powerful analytical techniques have also been developed exclusively for detecting and quantifying allosteric effects, based on an increased awareness of various mechanisms underlying allosteric modulator actions at GPCRs. Together, these advances promise to change the current paucity of GPCR allosteric modulators in the clinical setting and yield novel therapeutic entities for the treatment of numerous disorders.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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