Discovery and Characterization of Novel Antagonists of the Proinflammatory Orphan Receptor GPR84

Laura Jenkins, Sara Marsango, Sarah Mancini, Zobaer Al Mahmud, Angus Morrison, Stuart P. McElroy, Kirstie A. Bennett, Matt Barnes, Andrew B. Tobin, Irina G. Tikhonova, Graeme Milligan

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GPR84 is a poorly characterized, nominally orphan, proinflammatory G protein-coupled receptor that can be activated by medium chain length fatty acids. It is attracting considerable interest as a potential therapeutic target for antagonist ligands in both inflammatory bowel diseases and idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. Successful screening of more than 300 000 compounds from a small molecule library followed by detailed analysis of some 50 drug-like hits identified 3-((5,6-bis(4-methoxyphenyl)-1,2,4-triazin-3-yl)methyl)-1H-indole as a high affinity and highly selective competitive antagonist of human GPR84. Tritiation of a di-iodinated form of the core structure produced [3H]3-((5,6-diphenyl-1,2,4-triazin-3-yl)methyl)-1H-indole, which allowed effective measurement of receptor levels in both transfected cell lines and lipopolysaccharide-treated THP-1 monocyte/macrophage cells. Although this compound series lacks significant affinity at mouse GPR84, homology modeling and molecular dynamics simulations provided a potential rationale for this difference, and alteration of two residues in mouse GPR84 to the equivalent amino acids in the human orthologue, predicted to open the antagonist binding pocket, validated this model. Sequence alignment of other species orthologues further predicted binding of the compounds as high affinity antagonists at macaque, pig, and dog GPR84 but not at the rat orthologue, and pharmacological experiments confirmed these predictions. These studies provide a new class of GPR84 antagonists that display species selectivity defined via receptor modeling and mutagenesis
Original languageEnglish
JournalACS Pharmacology & Translational Science
Early online date07 Sep 2021
Publication statusEarly online date - 07 Sep 2021


  • Pharmacology (medical)
  • Pharmacology


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