More recently, there has been a paradigm shift toward selective drug targeting in the treatment of neurological disorders, including drug addiction, schizophrenia, and Parkinson’s disease mediated by the different dopamine receptor subtypes. Antagonists with higher selectivity for D dopamine receptor (D3DR) over D dopamine receptor (D2DR) have been shown to attenuate drug-seeking behavior and associated side effects compared to non-subtype selective antagonists. However, high conservations among constituent residues of both proteins, particularly at the ligand-binding pockets, remain a challenge to therapeutic drug design. Recent studies have reported the discovery of two small-molecules R-VK4-40 and Y-QA31 which substantially inhibited D3DR with >180-fold selectivity over D2DR. Therefore, in this study, we seek to provide molecular and structural insights into these differential binding mechanistic using meta-analytic computational simulation methods. Findings revealed that R-VK4-40 and Y-QA31 adopted shallow binding modes and were more surface-exposed at D3DR while on the contrary, they exhibited deep hydrophobic pocket binding at D2DR. Also, two non-conserved residues; Tyr36 and Ser182 were identified in D3DR, based on their crucial roles and contributions to the selective binding of R-VK4-40 and Y-QA31. Importantly, both antagonists exhibited high affinities in complex with D3DR compared to D2DR, while van der Waals energies contributed majorly to their binding and stability. Structural analyses also revealed the distinct stabilizing effects of both compounds on D3DR secondary architecture relative to D2DR. Therefore, findings herein pinpointed the origin and mechanistic of selectivity of the compounds, which may assist in the rational design of potential small molecules of the D -like dopamine family receptor subtype with improved potency and selectivity.
© 2021 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.