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4-(Azolyl)-Benzamidines as a Novel Chemotype for ASIC1a Inhibitors

Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2024, 25 (7), 3584

DOI: 10.3390/ijms25073584

Platonov M.; Maximyuk O.; Rayevsky A.; Hurmach V.; Iegorova O.; Naumchyk V.; Bulgakov E. et al.

Acid-sensing ion channels (ASICs) play a key role in the perception and response to extracellular acidification changes. These proton-gated cation channels are critical for neuronal functions, like learning and memory, fear, mechanosensation and internal adjustments like synaptic plasticity. Moreover, they play a key role in neuronal degeneration, ischemic neuronal injury, seizure termination, pain-sensing, etc. Functional ASICs are homo or heterotrimers formed with (ASIC1–ASIC3) homologous subunits. ASIC1a, a major ASIC isoform in the central nervous system (CNS), possesses an acidic pocket in the extracellular region, which is a key regulator of channel gating. Growing data suggest that ASIC1a channels are a potential therapeutic target for treating a variety of neurological disorders, including stroke, epilepsy and pain. Many studies were aimed at identifying allosteric modulators of ASIC channels. However, the regulation of ASICs remains poorly understood. Using all available crystal structures, which correspond to different functional states of ASIC1, and a molecular dynamics simulation (MD) protocol, we analyzed the process of channel inactivation. Then we applied a molecular docking procedure to predict the protein conformation suitable for the amiloride binding. To confirm the effect of its sole active blocker against the ASIC1 state transition route we studied the complex with another MD simulation run. Further experiments evaluated various compounds in the Enamine library that emerge with a detectable ASIC inhibitory activity. We performed a detailed analysis of the structural basis of ASIC1a inhibition by amiloride, using a combination of in silico approaches to visualize its interaction with the ion pore in the open state. An artificial activation (otherwise, expansion of the central pore) causes a complex modification of the channel structure, namely its transmembrane domain. The output protein conformations were used as a set of docking models, suitable for a high-throughput virtual screening of the Enamine chemical library. The outcome of the virtual screening was confirmed by electrophysiological assays with the best results shown for three hit compounds.

4-(Azolyl)-Benzamidines as a Novel Chemotype for ASIC1a Inhibitors