A Novel Way to Study hERG Drug Liability


A structure-based computational workflow to predict liability and binding modes of small molecules to hERG

Off-target interactions of drugs with the human ether-à-go-go related gene 1 (hERG1) channel have been associated with severe cardiotoxic conditions leading to the withdrawal of many drugs from the market over the last decades. Consequently, predicting drug-induced hERG-liability is now a prerequisite in any drug discovery campaign. Understanding the atomic level interactions of drug with the channel is essential to guide the efficient development of safe drugs. Here we utilize the recent cryo-EM structure of the hERG channel and describe an integrated computational workflow to characterize different drug-hERG interactions. The workflow employs various structure-based approaches and provides qualitative and quantitative insights into drug binding to hERG. Our protocol accurately differentiated the strong blockers from weak and revealed three potential anchoring sites in hERG. Drugs engaging in all these sites tend to have high affinity towards hERG. Our results were cross-validated using a fluorescence polarization kit binding assay and with electrophysiology measurements on the wild-type (WT-hERG) and on the two hERG mutants (Y652A-hERG and F656A-hERG), using the patch clamp technique on HEK293 cells. Finally, our analyses show that drugs binding to hERG disrupt and hijack certain native—structural networks in the channel, thereby, gaining more affinity towards hERG.

About This Webinar:

For this IonFlux webinar, we’ll be discussing a new, more affordable way to track drug liability for hERG channels.

This webinar, presented by Dr. Khaled Barakat, is based on research documented in a recent Scientific Reports publication co-authored with Dr. Michael Houghton, 2020 Nobel Prize Laureate in Physiology or Medicine.

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Dr. Khaled Barakat PhD, Assistant Professor, Faculty of Pharmacy & Pharmaceutical Sciences, University of Alberta
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