The OX2 orexin receptor (OX2R) is a highly expressed G protein-coupled receptor (GPCR) in the brain that regulates wakefulness and circadian rhythms in humans. Antagonism of OX2R is a proven therapeutic strategy for insomnia drugs, and agonism of OX2R is a potentially powerful approach for narcolepsy type 1, which is characterized by the death of orexinergic neurons. Until recently, agonism of OX2R had been considered ‘undruggable.’ We harness cryo-electron microscopy of OX2R-G protein complexes to determine how the first clinically tested OX2R agonist TAK-925 can activate OX2R in a highly selective manner. Two structures of TAK-925-bound OX2R with either a Gq mimetic or Gi reveal that TAK-925 binds at the same site occupied by antagonists, yet interacts with the transmembrane helices to trigger activating microswitches. Our structural and mutagenesis data show that TAK-925’s selectivity is mediated by subtle differences between OX1 and OX2 receptor subtypes at the orthosteric pocket. Finally, differences in the polarity of interactions at the G protein binding interfaces help to rationalize OX2R’s coupling selectivity for Gq signaling. The mechanisms of TAK-925’s binding, activation, and selectivity presented herein will aid in understanding the efficacy of small molecule OX2R agonists for narcolepsy and other circadian disorders.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Physics and Astronomy(all)