NMDA receptors are glutamate-gated ion channels (iGluRs) that are involved in several important physiological functions such as neuronal development, synaptic plasticity, learning, and memory. Among iGluRs, NMDA receptors have been perhaps the most actively investigated for their role in chronic neurodegeneration such as Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, and Huntington's diseases. Recent studies have shown that the NTD of subunit NR2B modulates ion channel gating through the binding of allosteric modulators such as the prototypical compound ifenprodil. In the present paper, the construction of a three-dimensional model for the NR2B modulatory domain is described and docking calculations allow, for the first time, definition of the ifenprodil binding pose at an atomic level and fully explain all the available structure-activity relationships. Moreover, in an attempt to add further insight into the ifenprodil mechanism of action, as it is not completely clear if it binds and stabilizes an open or a closed conformation of the NR2B modulatory domain, a matter, which is fundamental for the rational design of NMDA antagonists, MD simulations followed by an MM-PBSA analysis were performed. These calculations reveal that the closed conformation of the R1-R2 domain, rather than the open, constitutes the high affinity binding site for ifenprodil and that a profound stabilization of the closed conformation upon ifenprodil binding occurs. Thus, for a rational design and/or for virtual screening experiments, the closed conformation of the R1-R2 domain should be taken into account and our 3D model can provide valuable hints for the design of NR2B-selective antagonists.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Molecular Medicine
- Drug Discovery
- Pharmacology, Toxicology and Pharmaceutics(all)
- Organic Chemistry