Dynamical correlations reveal allosteric sites in g protein-coupled receptors

Pedro Renault, Jesús Giraldo*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


G protein-coupled Receptors (GPCRs) play a central role in many physiological processes and, consequently, constitute important drug targets. In particular, the search for allosteric drugs has recently drawn attention, since they could be more selective and lead to fewer side effects. Accordingly, computational tools have been used to estimate the druggability of allosteric sites in these receptors. In spite of many successful results, the problem is still challenging, particularly the prediction of hydrophobic sites in the interface between the protein and the membrane. In this work, we propose a complementary approach, based on dynamical correlations. Our basic hypothesis was that allosteric sites are strongly coupled to regions of the receptor that undergo important conformational changes upon activation. Therefore, using ensembles of experimental structures, normal mode analysis and molecular dynamics simulations we calculated correlations between internal fluctuations of different sites and a collective variable describing the activation state of the receptor. Then, we ranked the sites based on the strength of their coupling to the collective dynamics. In the β2 adrenergic (β2AR), glucagon (GCGR) and M2 muscarinic receptors, this procedure allowed us to correctly identify known allosteric sites, suggesting it has predictive value. Our results indicate that this dynamics-based approach can be a complementary tool to the existing toolbox to characterize allosteric sites in GPCRs.

Original languageEnglish
Article number187
Pages (from-to)1-21
Number of pages21
JournalInternational journal of molecular sciences
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2021


  • Allosteric sites
  • Coupled motions
  • Dynamical correlations
  • GPCR
  • Molecular dynamics
  • Normal modes


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