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A Strategy Combining Differential Low-Throughput Screening and Virtual Screening (DLS-VS) Accelerating the Discovery of new Modulators for the Orphan GPR34 Receptor



The DLS-VS strategy was developed as an integrated method for identifying chemical modulators for orphan GPCRs. It combines differential low-throughput screening (DLS) and virtual screening (VS). The two cascaded techniques offer complementary advantages and allow the experimental testing of a minimal number of compounds. First, DLS identifies modulators specific for the considered receptor among a set of receptors, through the screening of a small library with diverse chemical compounds. Then, an active molecular model of the receptor is built by homology to a validated template, and it is progressively refined by rotamers modification for key side-chains, by VS of the already screened library, and by iterative selection of the model generating the best enrichment. The refined active model is finally used for the VS of a large chemical library and the selection of a small set of compounds for experimental testing. Applied to the orphan receptor GPR34, the DLS-VS strategy combined the experimental screening of 20 000 compounds and the virtual screening of 1 250 000 compounds. It identified one agonist and eight inverse agonists, showing a high chemical diversity. We describe the method. The strategy can be applied to other GPCRs.