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Bioorg Med Chem. 2015 Jul 15;23(14):3991-9. doi: 10.1016/j.bmc.2015.01.013. Epub 2015 Jan 16.

Cell-based and virtual fragment screening for adrenergic α2C receptor agonists.

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Gedeon Richter Plc., Gyömrői út 19-21, Budapest H-1103, Hungary.
Research Centre for Natural Sciences of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Magyar tudósok körútja 2, Budapest H-1117, Hungary.


Fragment-based drug discovery has emerged as an alternative to conventional lead identification and optimization strategies generally supported by biophysical detection techniques. Membrane targets like G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs), however, offer challenges in lack of generic immobilization or stabilization methods for the dynamic, membrane-bound supramolecular complexes. Also modeling of different functional states of GPCRs proved to be a challenging task. Here we report a functional cell-based high concentration screening campaign for the identification of adrenergic α2C receptor agonists compared with the virtual screening of the same ligand set against an active-like homology model of the α2C receptor. The conventional calcium mobilization-based assay identified active fragments with a similar incidence to several other reported fragment screens on GPCRs. 16 out of 3071 screened fragments turned out as specific ligands of α2C, two of which were identified by virtual screening as well and several of the hits possessed surprisingly high affinity and ligand efficiency. Our results indicate that in vitro biological assays can be utilized in the fragment hit identification process for GPCR targets.


Adrenergic agonist; Functional assay; High concentration screening; Virtual screening; α(2C) agonist

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