Factors Governing Selectivity of Dopamine Receptor Binding Compounds for D2R and D3R Subtypes

Hamed S. Hayatshahi, Robert R. Luedtke, Michelle Taylor, Peng Jen Chen, Benjamin E. Blass, Jin Liu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Targeting the D3 dopamine receptor (D3R) is a promising pharmacotherapeutic strategy for the treatment of many disorders. The structure of the D3R is similar to the D2 dopamine receptor (D2R), especially in the transmembrane spanning regions that form the orthosteric binding site, making it difficult to identify D3R selective pharmacotherapeutic agents. Here, we examine the molecular basis for the high affinity D3R binding and D3R vs D2R binding selectivity of substituted phenylpiperazine thiopheneamides. We show that removing the thiophenearylamide portion of the ligand consistently decreases the affinity of these ligands at D3R, while not affecting their affinity at the D2R. Our long (>10 μs) molecular dynamics simulations demonstrated that both dopamine receptor subtypes adopt two major conformations that we refer to as closed or open conformations, with D3R sampling the open conformation more frequently than D2R. The binding of ligands with conjoined orthosteric-allosteric binding moieties causes the closed conformation to populate more often in the trajectories. Also, significant differences were observed in the extracellular loops (ECL) of these two receptor subtypes leading to the identification of several residues that contribute differently to the ligand binding for the two receptors that could potentially contribute to ligand binding selectivity. Our observations also suggest that the displacement of ordered water in the binding pocket of D3R contributes to the affinity of the compounds containing an allosteric binding motif. These studies provide a better understanding of how a bitopic mode of engagement can determine ligands that bind selectively to D2 and D3 dopamine receptor subtypes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2829-2843
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Chemical Information and Modeling
Issue number6
StatePublished - 28 Jun 2021


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