Dualsteric ligands represent a novel mode of targeting G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs). These compounds attach simultaneously to both, the orthosteric transmitter binding site and an additional allosteric binding area of a receptor protein. This approach allows the exploitation of favourable characteristics of the orthosteric and the allosteric site by a single ligand molecule. The orthosteric interaction provides high affinity binding and activation of receptors. The allosteric interaction yields receptor subtype-selectivity and, in addition, may modulate both, efficacy and intracellular signalling pathway activation. Insight into the spatial arrangement of the orthosteric and the allosteric site is far advanced in the muscarinic acetylcholine receptor, and the design of dualsteric muscarinic agonists has now been accomplished. Using the muscarinic receptor as a paradigm, this review summarizes the way from suggestive evidence for an orthosteric/allosteric overlap binding to the rational design and experimental validation of dualsteric ligands. As allosteric interactions are increasingly described for GPCRs and as insight into the spatial geometry of ligand/GPCR-complexes is growing impressively, the rational design of dualsteric drugs is a promising new approach to achieve fine-tuned GPCR-modulation.
This article is part of a themed section on Molecular Pharmacology of GPCR. To view the editorial for this themed section visit http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1476-5381.2010.00695.x