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1.  Selective Actions of Novel Allosteric Modulators Reveal Functional Heteromers of Metabotropic Glutamate Receptors in the CNS 
The Journal of Neuroscience  2014;34(1):79-94.
Metabotropic glutamate (mGlu) receptors play important roles in regulating CNS function and are known to function as obligatory dimers. Although recent studies have suggested heterodimeric assembly of mGlu receptors in vitro, the demonstration that distinct mGlu receptor proteins can form heterodimers or hetero-complexes with other mGlu subunits in native tissues, such as neurons, has not been shown. Using biochemical and pharmacological approaches, we demonstrate here that mGlu2 and mGlu4 form a hetero-complex in native rat and mouse tissues which exhibits a distinct pharmacological profile. These data greatly extend our current understanding of mGlu receptor interaction and function and provide compelling evidence that mGlu receptors can function as heteromers in intact brain circuits.
PMCID: PMC3866496  PMID: 24381270
2.  The metabotropic glutamate receptor 8 agonist (S)-3,4-DCPG reverses motor deficits in prolonged but not acute models of Parkinson’s disease 
Neuropharmacology  2012;66:187-195.
Metabotropic glutamate receptors (mGlus) are 7 Transmembrane Spanning Receptors (7TMs) that are differentially expressed throughout the brain and modulate synaptic transmission at both excitatory and inhibitory synapses. Recently, mGlus have been implicated as therapeutic targets for many disorders of the central nervous system, including Parkinson’s disease (PD). Previous studies have shown that nonselective agonists of group III mGlus have antiparkinsonian effects in several animal models of PD, suggesting that these receptors represent promising targets for treating the motor symptoms of PD. However, the relative contributions of different group III mGlu subtypes to these effects have not been fully elucidated. Here we report that intracerebroventricular (icv) administration of the mGlu8-selective agonist (S)-3,4-dicarboxyphenylglycine (DCPG [2.5, 10, or 30 nmol]) does not alleviate motor deficits caused by acute (two hour) treatment with haloperidol or reserpine. However, following prolonged pretreatment with haloperidol (three doses evenly spaced over 18–20 hours) or reserpine (18–20 hours), DCPG robustly reverses haloperidol-induced catalepsy and reserpine-induced akinesia. Furthermore, DCPG (10 nmol, icv) reverses the long-lasting catalepsy induced by 20 hour pretreatment with the decanoate salt of haloperidol. Finally, icv administration of DCPG ameliorates forelimb use asymmetry caused by unilateral 6-hydroxydopamine lesion of substantia nigra dopamine neurons. These findings suggest that mGlu8 may partially mediate the antiparkinsonian effects of group III mGlu agonists in animal models of PD in which dopamine depletion or blockade of D2-like dopamine receptors is prolonged and indicate that selective activation of mGlu8 may represent a novel therapeutic strategy for alleviating the motor symptoms of PD.
PMCID: PMC3432150  PMID: 22546615
3.  Discovery, characterization, and antiparkinsonian effect of novel positive allosteric modulators of metabotropic glutamate receptor 4 
Molecular pharmacology  2008;74(5):1345-1358.
Parkinson's disease (PD) is caused by the death of dopamine neurons in the basal ganglia and results in motor symptoms such as tremor and bradykinesia. Activation of metabotropic glutamate receptor 4 (mGluR4) has been shown to modulate neurotransmission in the basal ganglia and results in antiparkinsonian effects in rodent PD models. PHCCC is a positive allosteric modulator (PAM) of mGluR4 which has been used to further validate the role of mGluR4 in PD, but the compound suffers from a lack of selectivity, relatively low potency and poor solubility. Via high-throughput screening, we discovered over 400 novel PAMs of mGluR4. Compounds derived from a novel chemical scaffold were characterized in vitro at both rat and human mGluR4 using two distinct assays of mGluR4 function. The lead compound was approximately 8-fold more potent than PHCCC, enhanced the potency of glutamate at mGluR4 by 8-fold, and did not show any significant potentiator or antagonist activity at other mGluR subtypes. Resolution of the regioisomers of the lead revealed that the cis regioisomer, VU0155041, contained the majority of the mGluR4 PAM activity and also exhibited partial agonist activity at mGluR4 at a site that was distinct from the glutamate binding site, suggesting that this compound is a mixed allosteric agonist/PAM of mGluR4. VU0155041 was soluble in an aqueous vehicle and intracerebroventricular administration of 31 to 316 nmol of VU0155041 dose-dependently decreased haloperidol-induced catalepsy and reserpine-induced akinesia in rats. These exciting results provide continued support for mGluR4 as a therapeutic target in PD.
PMCID: PMC2574552  PMID: 18664603
4.  Novel GlyT1 inhibitor chemotypes by scaffold hopping. Part 2. Development of a [3.3.0]-based series and other piperidine bioisosteres 
This letter describes the development and SAR of a novel series of GlyT1 inhibitors derived from a scaffold hopping approach, in lieu of an HTS campaign, which provided intellectual property position. Members within this new [3.3.0]-based series displayed excellent GlyT1 potency, selectivity, free fraction, and modest CNS penetration. Moreover, enantioselective GlyT1 inhibition was observed, within this novel series and a number of other piperidine bioisosteric cores.
PMCID: PMC3951244  PMID: 24462664
GlyT1; Scaffold hopping; transporter; schizophrenia
5.  Novel GlyT1 inhibitor chemotypes by scaffold hopping. Part 1. Development of a potent and CNS penetrant [3.1.0]-based lead 
This letter describes the development and SAR of a novel series of GlyT1 inhibitors derived from a scaffold hopping approach that provided a robust intellectual property position, in lieu of a traditional, expensive HTS campaign. Members within this new [3.1.0]-based series displayed excellent GlyT1 potency, selectivity, free fraction, CNS penetration and efficacy in a preclinical model of schizophrenia (prepulse inhibition).
PMCID: PMC3951249  PMID: 24461352
GlyT1; Scaffold hopping; transporter; schizophrenia
6.  Discovery of the first M5-selective and CNS penetrant negative allosteric modulator (NAM) of a muscarinic acetylcholine receptor: (S)-9b-(4-chlorophenyl)-1-(3,4-difluorobenzoyl)-2,3-dihydro-1H-imidazo[2,1-a]isoindol-5(9bH)-one (ML375) 
Journal of medicinal chemistry  2013;56(22):10.1021/jm4013246.
A functional high throughput screen and subsequent multi-dimensional, iterative parallel synthesis effort identified the first muscarinic acetylcholine receptor (mAChR) negative allosteric modulator (NAM) selective for the M5 subtype. ML375 is a highly selective M5 NAM with sub-micromolar potency (human M5 IC50 = 300 nM, rat M5 IC50 = 790 nM, M1–4 IC50 >30 μM), excellent multi-species PK, high CNS penetration, and enantiospecific inhibition.
PMCID: PMC3876027  PMID: 24164599
Muscarinic acetylcholine receptor; M5; negative allosteric modulator (NAM); ML375; MLPCN probe
7.  Discovery of VU0409106: A negative allosteric modulator of mGlu5 with activity in a mouse model of anxiety 
Bioorganic & medicinal chemistry letters  2013;23(21):10.1016/j.bmcl.2013.09.001.
Development of SAR in an aryl ether series of mGlu5 NAMs leading to the identification of tool compound VU0409106 is described in this Letter. VU0409106 is a potent and selective negative allosteric modulator of mGlu5 that binds at the known allosteric binding site and demonstrates good CNS exposure following intraperitoneal dosing in mice. VU0409106 also proved efficacious in a mouse marble burying model of anxiety, an assay known to be sensitive to mGlu5 antagonists as well as clinically efficacious anxiolytics.
PMCID: PMC3846293  PMID: 24074843
8.  Exploration of Allosteric Agonism Structure-Activity Relationships within an Acetylene Series of Metabotropic Glutamate Receptor 5 (mGlu5) Positive Allosteric Modulators (PAMs): discovery of 5-((3-fluorophenyl)ethynyl)-N-(3-methyloxetan-3-yl)picolinamide (ML254) 
Journal of medicinal chemistry  2013;56(20):7976-7996.
Positive allosteric modulators (PAMs) of metabotropic glutamate receptor 5 (mGlu5) represent a promising therapeutic strategy for the treatment of schizophrenia. Both allosteric agonism and high glutamate fold-shift have been implicated in the neurotoxic profile of some mGlu5 PAMs; however, these hypotheses remain to be adequately addressed. To develop tool compounds to probe these hypotheses, the structure-activity relationship of allosteric agonism was examined within an acetylenic series of mGlu5 PAMs exhibiting allosteric agonism in addition to positive allosteric modulation (ago-PAMs). PAM 38t, a low glutamate fold-shift allosteric ligand (maximum fold-shift ~3.0), was selected as a potent PAM with no agonism in the in vitro system used for compound characterization and in two native electrophysiological systems using rat hippocampal slices. PAM 38t (ML254) will be useful to probe the relative contribution of cooperativity and allosteric agonism to the adverse effect liability and neurotoxicity associated with this class of mGlu5 PAMs.
PMCID: PMC3908770  PMID: 24050755
9.  Dihydrothiazolopyridone Derivatives as a Novel Family of Positive Allosteric Modulators of the Metabotropic Glutamate 5 (mGlu5) Receptor 
Journal of medicinal chemistry  2013;56(18):7243-7259.
Starting from a singleton chromanone high throughput screening (HTS) hit, we describe a focused medicinal chemistry optimization effort leading to the identification of a novel series of phenoxymethyl-dihydrothiazolopyridone derivatives as selective positive allosteric modulators (PAMs) of the metabotropic glutamate 5 (mGlu5) receptor. These dihydrothiazolopyridones potentiate receptor responses in recombinant systems. In vitro and in vivo drug metabolism and pharmacokinetic (DMPK) evaluation allowed us to select compound 16a for its assessment in a preclinical animal screen of possible antipsychotic activity. 16a was able to reverse amphetamine-induced hyperlocomotion in rats in a dose-dependent manner without showing any significant motor impairment or overt neurological side effects at comparable doses. Evolution of our medicinal chemistry program, structure activity, and properties relationships (SAR and SPR) analysis as well as a detailed profile for optimized mGlu5 receptor PAM 16a are described.
PMCID: PMC3924858  PMID: 23947773
10.  ML297 (VU0456810), the First Potent and Selective Activator of the GIRK Potassium Channel, Displays Antiepileptic Properties in Mice 
ACS Chemical Neuroscience  2013;4(9):1278-1286.
The G-protein activated, inward-rectifying potassium (K+) channels, “GIRKs”, are a family of ion channels (Kir3.1-Kir3.4) that has been the focus of intense research interest for nearly two decades. GIRKs are comprised of various homo- and heterotetrameric combinations of four different subunits. These subunits are expressed in different combinations in a variety of regions throughout the central nervous system and in the periphery. The body of GIRK research implicates GIRK in processes as diverse as controlling heart rhythm, to effects on reward/addiction, to modulation of response to analgesics. Despite years of GIRK research, very few tools exist to selectively modulate GIRK channels’ activity and until now no tools existed that potently and selectively activated GIRKs. Here we report the development and characterization of the first truly potent, effective, and selective GIRK activator, ML297 (VU0456810). We further demonstrate that ML297 is active in two in vivo models of epilepsy, a disease where up to 40% of patients remain with symptoms refractory to present treatments. The development of ML297 represents a truly significant advancement in our ability to selectively probe GIRK’s role in physiology as well as providing the first tool for beginning to understand GIRK’s potential as a target for a diversity of therapeutic indications.
PMCID: PMC3778424  PMID: 23730969
GIRK; G-protein; inward rectifier; potassium channel; epilepsy; activator
11.  Octahydropyrrolo[3,4-c]pyrrole negative allosteric modulators of mGlu1 
Development of SAR in an octahydropyrrolo[3,4-c]pyrrole series of negative allosteric modulators of mGlu1 using a functional cell-based assay is described in this Letter. The octahydropyrrolo[3,4-c]pyrrole scaffold was chosen as an isosteric replacement for the piperazine ring found in the initial hit compound. Characterization of selected compounds in protein binding assays was used to identify the most promising analogs, which were then profiled in P450 inhibition assays in order to further assess the potential for drug-likeness within this series of compounds.
PMCID: PMC3901432  PMID: 23932792
Glutamate; GPCR; mGlu1; Allosteric modulator; CNS; Octahydropyrrolo[3,4-c]pyrrole
12.  M5 Receptor Activation Produces Opposing Physiological Outcomes in Dopamine Neurons Depending on the Receptor's Location 
The Journal of Neuroscience  2014;34(9):3253-3262.
Of the five muscarinic receptor subtypes, the M5 receptor is the only one detectable in midbrain dopaminergic neurons, making it an attractive potential therapeutic target for treating disorders in which dopaminergic signaling is disrupted. However, developing an understanding of the role of M5 in regulating midbrain dopamine neuron function has been hampered by a lack of subtype-selective compounds. Here, we extensively characterize the novel compound VU0238429 and demonstrate that it acts as a positive allosteric modulator with unprecedented selectivity for the M5 receptor. We then used VU0238429, along with M5 knock-out mice, to elucidate the role of this receptor in regulating substantia nigra pars compacta (SNc) neuron physiology in both mice and rats. In sagittal brain slices that isolate the SNc soma from their striatal terminals, activation of muscarinic receptors induced Ca2+ mobilization and inward currents in SNc dopamine neurons, both of which were potentiated by VU0238429 and absent in M5 knock-out mice. Activation of M5 also increased the spontaneous firing rate of SNc neurons, suggesting that activation of somatodendritic M5 increases the intrinsic excitability of SNc neurons. However, in coronal slices of the striatum, potentiation of M5 with VU0238429 resulted in an inhibition in dopamine release as monitored with fast scan cyclic voltammetry. Accordingly, activation of M5 can lead to opposing physiological outcomes depending on the location of the receptor. Although activation of somatodendritic M5 receptors on SNc neurons leads to increased neuronal firing, activation of M5 receptors in the striatum induces an inhibition in dopamine release.
PMCID: PMC3935086  PMID: 24573284
acetylcholine; allosteric; dopamine; M5; mAChR; muscarinic
13.  Substituted 1-Phenyl-3-(pyridin-2-yl)urea Negative Allosteric Modulators of mGlu5: Discovery of a New Tool Compound VU0463841 with Activity in Rat Models of Cocaine Addiction 
ACS Chemical Neuroscience  2013;4(8):1217-1228.
Cocaine is a powerful and highly addictive stimulant that disrupts the normal reward circuitry in the central nervous system (CNS), producing euphoric effects. Cocaine use can lead to acute and life threatening emergencies, and abuse is associated with increased risk for contracting infectious diseases. Though certain types of behavioral therapy have proven effective for treatment of cocaine addiction, relapse remains high, and there are currently no approved medications for the treatment of cocaine abuse. Evidence has continued to accumulate that indicates a critical role for the metabotropic glutamate receptor subtype 5 (mGlu5) in the modulation of neural circuitry associated with the addictive properties of cocaine. While the small molecule mGlu5 negative allosteric modulator (NAM) field is relatively advanced, investigation into the potential of small molecule mGlu5 NAMs for the treatment of cocaine addiction remains an area of high interest. Herein we describe the discovery and characterization of a potent and selective compound 29 (VU0463841) with good CNS exposure in rats. The utility of 29 (VU0463841) was demonstrated by its ability to attenuate drug seeking behaviors in relevant rat models of cocaine addiction.
PMCID: PMC3750677  PMID: 23682684
mGlu5; negative allosteric modulator; noncompetitive antagonist; CNS; cocaine; addiction
14.  N-Acyl-N′-arylpiperazines as negative allosteric modulators of mGlu1: Identification of VU0469650, a potent and selective tool compound with CNS exposure in rats 
Bioorganic & medicinal chemistry letters  2013;23(13):10.1016/j.bmcl.2013.05.020.
Development of SAR in an N-acyl-N′-arylpiperazine series of negative allosteric modulators of mGlu1 using a functional cell-based assay is described in this Letter. Characterization of selected compounds in protein binding assays was used to aid in selecting VU0469650 for further profiling in ancillary pharmacology assays and pharmacokinetic studies. VU0469650 demonstrated an excellent selectivity profile and good exposure in both plasma and brain samples following intraperitoneal dosing in rats.
PMCID: PMC3875306  PMID: 23727046
Glutamate; GPCR; mGlu1; Allosteric modulator; CNS; Piperazine
15.  Discovery of ML326: the first sub-micromolar, selective M5 PAM 
This letter describes the further chemical optimization of the M5 PAM MLPCN probes ML129 and ML172. A multi-dimensional iterative parallel synthesis effort quickly explored isatin replacements and a number of southern heterobiaryl variations with no improvement over ML129 and ML172. An HTS campaign identified several weak M5 PAMs (M5 EC50 >10 μM) with a structurally related isatin core that possessed a southern phenethyl ether linkage. While SAR within the HTS series was very shallow and unable to be optimized, grafting the phenethyl ether linkage onto the ML129/ML172 cores led to the first sub-micromolar M5 PAM, ML326 (VU0467903), (human and rat M5 EC50s of 409 nM and 480 nM, respectively) with excellent mAChR selectivity (M1-M4 EC50s <30 μM) and a robust 20-fold leftward shift of the ACh CRC.
PMCID: PMC3634896  PMID: 23562060
Muscarinic acetylcholine receptors; M5; Positive allosteric modulator (PAM); ML326
16.  Unique signaling profiles of positive allosteric modulators of metabotropic glutamate receptor subtype 5 determine differences in in vivo activity 
Biological psychiatry  2012;73(6):501-509.
Metabotropic glutamate receptor subtype 5 (mGlu5) activators have emerged as a novel approach to the treatment of schizophrenia. Positive allosteric modulators (PAMs) of mGlu5 have generated tremendous excitement and fueled major drug discovery efforts. Although mGlu5 PAMs have robust efficacy in preclinical models of schizophrenia, preliminary reports suggest that these compounds may induce seizure activity. Prototypical mGlu5 PAMs do not activate mGlu5 directly but selectively potentiate activation of mGlu5 by glutamate. This mechanism may be critical to maintaining normal activity-dependence of mGlu5 activation and achieving optimal in vivo effects.
Using specially engineered mGlu5 cell lines incorporating point mutations within the allosteric and orthosteric binding sites, as well as brain slice electrophysiology and in vivo electroencephalography and behavioral pharmacology, we found that some mGlu5 PAMs have intrinsic allosteric agonist activity in the absence of glutamate.
Both in vitro mutagenesis and in vivo pharmacology studies demonstrate that VU0422465 is an agonist PAM that induces epileptiform activity and behavioral convulsions in rodents. In contrast, VU0361747, an mGlu5 PAMs optimized to eliminate allosteric agonist activity, has robust in vivo efficacy and does not induce adverse effects at doses that yield high brain concentrations.
Loss of the absolute dependence of mGlu5 PAMs on glutamate release for their activity can lead to severe adverse effects. The finding that closely related mGlu5 PAMs can differ in their intrinsic agonist activity provides critical new insights that is essential for advancing these molecules through clinical development for treatment of schizophrenia.
PMCID: PMC3572342  PMID: 23140665
Glutamate; allosteric modulators; agonist; schizophrenia; seizure; convulsions; mGlu5
17.  Spirocyclic replacements for the isatin in the highly selective, muscarinic M1 PAM ML137: the continued optimization of an MLPCN probe molecule 
This Letter describes the further optimization of an MLPCN probe molecule (ML137) through the introduction of 5- and 6- membered spirocycles in place of the isatin ketone. Interestingly divergent structure-activity relationships, when compared to earlier M1 PAMs, are presented. These novel spirocycles possess improved efficacy relative to ML137, while also maintaining high selectivity for the human and rat muscarinic M1 receptor subtype.
PMCID: PMC3594472  PMID: 23416001
Muscarinic acetylcholine receptor 1; M1; Spirocyclic; Positive allosteric modulator (PAM); ML137; VU0413162
18.  Functional selectivity induced by mGlu4 receptor positive allosteric modulation and concomitant activation of Gq coupled receptors 
Neuropharmacology  2012;66:122-132.
Metabotropic glutamate receptors (mGlus) are a group of Family C Seven Transmembrane Spanning Receptors (7TMRs) that play important roles in modulating signaling transduction, particularly within the central nervous system. mGlu4 belongs to a subfamily of mGlus that is predominantly coupled to Gi/o G proteins. We now report that the ubiquitous autacoid and neuromodulator, histamine, induces substantial glutamate-activated calcium mobilization in mGlu4-expressing cells, an effect which is observed in the absence of co-expressed chimeric G proteins. This strong induction of calcium signaling downstream of glutamate activation of mGlu4 depends upon the presence of H1 histamine receptors. Interestingly, the potentiating effect of histamine activation does not extend to other mGlu4-mediated signaling events downstream of Gi/o G proteins, such as cAMP inhibition, suggesting that the presence of Gq coupled receptors such as H1 may bias normal mGlu4-mediated Gi/o signaling events. When the activity induced by small molecule positive allosteric modulators of mGlu4 is assessed, the potentiated signaling of mGlu4 is further biased by histamine toward calcium-dependent pathways. These results suggest that Gi/o-coupled mGlus may induce substantial, and potentially unexpected, calcium-mediated signaling events if stimulation occurs concomitantly with activation of Gq receptors. Additionally, our results suggest that signaling induced by small molecule positive allosteric modulators may be substantially biased when Gq receptors are co-activated.
This article is part of a Special Issue entitled ‘mGluR’
PMCID: PMC3412075  PMID: 22426233
Glutamate; Histamine; Receptor; Allosteric modulator; Functional selectivity
19.  Synthesis and biological characterization of a series of novel diaryl amide M1 antagonists 
Utilizing a combination of high-throughput and multi-step synthesis, SAR in a novel series of M1 acetylcholine receptor antagonists was rapidly established. The efforts led to the discovery the highly potent M1 antagonists 6 (VU0431263), and 8f (VU0433670). Functional Schild analysis and radioligand displacement experiments demonstrated the competitive, orthosteric binding of these compounds; human selectivity data are presented.
PMCID: PMC3897205  PMID: 23062550
Muscarinic acetylcholine receptor 1; M1 antagonist; VU0433670; VU0431263; Fluorination
20.  Isatin replacements applied to the highly selective, muscarinic M1 PAM ML137: Continued optimization of an MLPCN probe molecule 
This Letter describes the continued optimization of an MLPCN probe molecule (ML137) with a focused effort on the replacement/modification of the isatin moiety present in this highly selective M1 PAM. A diverse range of structures were validated as viable replacements for the isatin, many of which engendered sizeable improvements in their ability to enhance the potency and efficacy of acetylcholine when compared to ML137. Muscarinic receptor subtype selectivity for the M1 receptor was also maintained.
PMCID: PMC3534865  PMID: 23237839
Muscarinic acetylcholine receptor 1; M1; Allosteric; Positive allosteric modulator (PAM); ML137; VU0448350
21.  Development of novel M1 antagonist scaffolds through the continued optimization of the MLPCN probe ML012 
Bioorganic & medicinal chemistry letters  2012;22(15):10.1016/j.bmcl.2012.06.018.
This Letter describes the continued optimization of an MLPCN probe molecule M1 antagonist (ML012) through an iterative parallel synthesis approach. After several rounds of modifications of the parent compound, we arrived at a new azetidine scaffold that displayed improved potency while maintaining a desirable level of selectivity over other muscarinic receptor subtypes. Data for representative molecules 7w (VU0452865) and 12a (VU0455691) are presented.
PMCID: PMC3883446  PMID: 22749871
Muscarinic acetylcholine receptor 1; M1 Antagonist; ML012; VU0455691; VU0452865
22.  Further exploration of M1 allosteric agonists: Subtle structural changes abolish M1 allosteric agonism and result in pan-mAChR orthosteric antagonism 
This letter describes the further exploration of two series of M1allosteric agonists, TBPB and VU0357017, previously reported from our lab. Within the TPBP scaffold, either electronic or steric perturbations to the central piperidine ring led to a loss of selective M1 allosteric agonism and afforded pan-mAChR antagonism, which was demonstrated to be mediated via the orthosteric site. Additional SAR around a related M1 allosteric agonist family (VU0357017) identified similar, subtle ‘molecular switches’ that modulated modes of pharmacology from allosteric agonism to pan-mAChR orthosteric antagonism. Therefore, all of these ligands are best classified as bi-topic ligands that possess high affinity binding at an allosteric site to engender selective M1 activation, but all bind, at higher concentrations, to the orthosteric ACh site, leading to non-selective orthosteric site binding and mAChR antagonism.
PMCID: PMC3525729  PMID: 23200253
TBPB; M1; Allosteric agonist; Muscarinic receptor
23.  Discovery of a selective M4 positive allosteric modulator based on the 3-amino-thieno[2,3-b]pyridine-2-carboxamide scaffold: development of ML253, a potent and brain penetrant compound that is active in a preclinical model of schizophrenia 
Herein we report a next generation muscarinic receptor 4 (M4) positive allosteric modulator (PAM), ML253 which exhibits nanomolar activity at both the human (EC50 = 56 nM) and rat (EC50 = 176 nM) receptors and excellent efficacy by the left-ward shift of the ACh concentration response curve (Fold Shift, human = 106; rat = 50). In addition, ML253 is selective against the four other muscarinic subtypes, displays excellent CNS exposure and is active in an amphetamine-induced hyperlocomotion assay.
PMCID: PMC3535830  PMID: 23177787
Muscarinic receptor 4; Positive allosteric modulator; Amphetamine induced hyperlocomotion; CNS; PAM
24.  Discovery of the First Highly M5-Preferring Muscarinic Acetylcholine Receptor Ligand, an M5 Positive Allosteric Modulator Derived from a Series of 5-Trifluoromethoxy N-Benzyl Isatins 
Journal of medicinal chemistry  2009;52(11):10.1021/jm900286j.
This report describes the discovery and initial characterization of the first positive allosteric modulator of muscarinic acetylcholine receptor subtype 5 (mAChR5 or M5). Functional HTS, identified VU0119498, which displayed micromolar potencies for potentiation of acetylcholine at M1, M3, and M5 receptors in cell-based Ca2+ mobilization assays. Subsequent optimization led to the discovery of VU0238429, which possessed an EC50 of approximately 1.16 µM at M5 with >30-fold selectivity versus M1 and M3, with no M2 or M4 potentiator activity.
PMCID: PMC3875304  PMID: 19438238
25.  Chemical Modification of the M1 Agonist VU0364572 Reveals Molecular Switches in Pharmacology and a Bitopic Binding Mode 
ACS Chemical Neuroscience  2012;3(12):1025-1036.
We previously reported the discovery of VU0364572 and VU0357017 as M1-selective agonists that appear to activate M1 through actions at an allosteric site. Previous studies have revealed that chemical scaffolds for many allosteric modulators contain molecular switches that allow discovery of allosteric antagonists and allosteric agonists or positive allosteric modulators (PAMs) based on a single chemical scaffold. Based on this, we initiated a series of studies to develop selective M1 allosteric antagonists based on the VU0364572 scaffold. Interestingly, two lead antagonists identified in this series, VU0409774 and VU0409775, inhibited ACh-induced Ca2+ responses at rat M1–5 receptor subtypes, suggesting they are nonselective muscarinic antagonists. VU0409774 and VU0409775 also completely displaced binding of the nonselective radioligand [3H]-NMS at M1 and M3 mAChRs with affinities similar to their functional IC50 values. Finally, Schild analysis revealed that these compounds inhibit M1 responses through a fully competitive interaction at the orthosteric binding site. This surprising finding prompted further studies to determine whether agonist activity of VU0364572 and VU0357017 may also engage in previously unappreciated actions at the orthosteric site on M1. Surprisingly, both VU0364572 and VU0357017 completely displaced [3H]-NMS binding to the orthosteric site of M1–M5 receptors at high concentrations. Furthermore, evaluation of agonist activity in systems with varying levels of receptor reserve and Furchgott analysis using a cell line expressing M1 under control of an inducible promotor was consistent with an action of these compounds as weak orthosteric partial agonists of M1. However, consistent with previous studies suggesting actions at a site that is distinct from the orthosteric binding site, VU0364572 or VU0357017 slowed the rate of [3H]-NMS dissociation from CHO-rM1 membranes. Together, these results suggest that VU0364572 and VU0357017 act as bitopic ligands and that novel antagonists in this series act as competitive orthosteric site antagonists.
PMCID: PMC3526969  PMID: 23259038
Acetylcholine; GPCR; allosteric; orthosteric; agonist; antagonist

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